How to Build Team Agreements - Need Set Exercise

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Monday, May 20, 2013

Continuing Journey Through Facilitation Processes

This blog and the accompanying video is one more episode in the ongoing journey of exposing folks to a whole range of useful facilitation processes. Another purpose is to provide backup support for all the processes I present in my Facilitation Skills for Chaotic Times training program. In this way particiants can review a topic or process that was presented during their training when they get ready to use a process in their work setting. 

Building on Commonality Rather Than Differences

The Need Set Exercise is a wonderful process for exploring what makes people tick. The vehicle for doing this is through the Need Set Inventory. In the inventory people identify their level of need for a range of topics - need for order, relationships, understanding, purpose, etc. The topics can be tailored to the unique issues of each team or group. The beauty of the process is that people love to learn about themselves, the process engages people in story-telling and people invariably find more commonalities than differences. In a sense this ends up being an appreciative approach.

 

Steps to the Process:

As described in the video, there are steps to the process:

  1. Each person fills out their own inventory, rating their level of need from 1-5. Five being a high need and 1 being a low need.
  2. Each person picks a partner and they share their ratings and rationale for their ratings. This is done one item at a time. The order of sharing is reversed for each need. Importance is placed on sharing the evidence of their rating more than on the numerical rating. This is where the story-telling comes in.
  3. After all the needs are shared in dyads, the whole group comes back and shares about their insights and commonalities.
  4. The last step is where the whole group identifies the most important needs across the whole group. This then becomes the opening for a conversation about how these shared needs (values) can be translated into team agreements. 

Alternative Approach - Whole Group Process

If the team is 12 people or less, it is far more productive to do a whole group process rather than first going through the inventory in dyads. The steps for this process are as follows:

  1. Each person fills out their own inventory, rating their level of need from 1-5. Five being a high need and 1 being a low need.
  2. Starting with a volunteer in the group, that person shares their level of need for the first item on the Need Set Inventory. They then share their specific evidence of how they know when that need is satisfied. In sequence, the other members in the team share their level of need around the same issue. Everyone shares. A different person starts the process for the next need with everyone eventually sharing both their level and their evidence. The process continues until all the needs are explored by the team. Each member of the team is encouraged to take notes on each of the other team members.
  3. After all the needs are shared, the whole group discusses their insights and commonalities in the crtical evidence.
  4. The last step is where the whole group identifies the most important needs across the whole group. This then becomes the opening for a conversation about how these shared needs (values) can be translated into team agreements.

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