All posts by Karen Tucker

Karen Tucker is co-CEO for iLiv where concepts from the performing arts are applied to help teams to better coordinate and work together while focusing and stimulating creativity. Karen’s favourite things are people, her Labrador Retriever, music, travel, and the theatre.

The 4 ‘Essential Types’ That Make a Team Great

Many factors contribute to making a team great, but one that sticks out in my mind is whether you have the 4 ‘Essential Types’ on your team.

According to David Culver, iLiv’s Chairman, you will always find all four of these types represented on any team that can truly be called great.

Culver grew Alcan to be one of Canada’s largest and most successful companies (a company that sold in 2007 for $38 Billion). He’s been awarded many accolades over the years, and is widely respected as a great leader. When asked to describe his key role as CEO, he once replied, “growing people quickly”. And this test — taught to him by management guru, James T. McCay — helped him to organize some VERY successful teams.

So, what are the types that every team needs?

Type 1: The Hunter

The Hunter is all get up and go, “Let’s do it.” Imagine a cave-dweller clubbing something and bringing it back to the cave. At that point, the hunter’s job with that ‘something’ is finished, and the hunter goes back out and continues hunting for another ‘something’ to bring back. The hunter is always hunting.

Type 2: The Spiritualist 

The Spiritualist asks questions, and then asks some more questions, and then more questions — the principle one being: “Why are we doing this?” The Spiritualist drives the Hunter crazy.

Type 3: The Jester 

The Jester has the innate ability to lower tension — to be the team’s pressure-release valve. The Jester thinks both the Hunter and the Spiritualist are a little nuts, but is fine with both of them, because the Jester is also keeping a critical eye on…

Type 4: The Leader

In spite of all of the traits that come to mind when you imagine a leader, there is one ubiquitous and essential quality of a great leader: The Leader understands that you must have all four types, and composes the team accordingly.

Of course, people can be more than one of these types at the same time. I often work with a team of 2, where we fill all four of these descriptions between ourselves. I’ve noticed my dominant ‘type’ changes as is required, and if we lose one of the types between us, that’s when we have trouble.

Your type can also change.

Perhaps you’re an executive (traditional Leader role), currently exploring your company’s purpose (the Spiritualist). Or maybe you’re in sales (traditional Hunter role), but strongly motivated to keep your sales team’s internal competitiveness in check (the Jester). This is all OK, as long as your team is always comprised of the 4 types.

So, the next time you’re wondering what you could do to make your team more successful, regardless of your traditional role, consider these 4 types, and be sure you’ve got them covered.

Communication: A must-have to get Innovation from Teamwork

Last month, both the New York Times Magazine and Quartz published articles regarding the recent findings of a Google study: That it pays to be nice to our teammates. Yes, it turns-out our friends at Sesame Street were right: Cooperation really does make it happen.

Both sources linked to a Ted Talk given by an old friend of ours, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson, whose own research has led her to similar discoveries about teamwork. In the talk, she says that, when working in teams, “Every time we withhold (a question, concern, or idea), we rob ourselves and our colleagues of small amounts of learning — and we don’t innovate”.

Did you catch that last bit?! It was pretty important. Her study revealed that when we don’t communicate, “we don’t innovate”. So, her research in this case focuses around creating a comfortable work environment, or as she calls it, a “psychologically safe” workplace where everyone on the team has a voice.

Of course, us green building industry folks have known about this for years – we call it “integrative design”, and it’s even been outlined by the United States Green Building Council as a possible credit toward the most up-to-date LEED certification.

In reading these articles and watching Amy’s Ted Talk, I couldn’t help but hear echoes from our 2013 interview with Architect, Bill Reed, another friend and iLiv advisor. Bill’s work with teams has given him superstar status on the green building circuit, and it’s no surprise that he and Amy’s work has brought them to similar conclusions. Back then, Bill told us, among other things, that we must be “co-learners” instead of “experts”. He said that “mutual learning” is imperative to a systems approach, and that it is necessary in order to find deep synergies — and to be truly innovative in teams.

Innovation is important. And it turns out that in teams, and on projects with lots of uncertainty, innovation won’t happen unless we’re nice and respectful of each other. We’ve got to learn to work well together, and that means communicating well together.

As a frequent collaborator and team leader, myself, I find this really interesting. And so, I plan to spend some time in the coming months looking deeper into how it is that we can get the most creativity from individuals on our teams. And, since we humans always want to improve, I will also look into how it is that we can ensure that individuals on our teams get the most out of our projects for themselves.

Can you think of a time on a team when you wanted to ask a question, or had a certain concern, or an idea, but didn’t feel comfortable enough to stand-up and voice it? I sure can. Please share your experiences in the comments section – Amy’s work tells us that sharing these stories (“acknowledging your own fallibility”) is a building block of psychological safety, after all. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to opening-up and learning more about the world’s latest, greatest, approaches to teamwork, communication, and innovation.


LEED Gold certification our 1st AEC Project!

We hit a bit of a milestone yesterday as the very first project ever run in All-In by a General Contractor was officially granted LEED Gold certification.

It was on the 6th of May, 2011 that we walked into Webcor’s office… Our long-time advisor, Ann Edminster wanted to introduce us to her friend Phil Williams — And Phil immediately brought in his Sustainability and LEED Rockstar, Megan White.

Over the years, we had the chance to do some site visits, work with students who were interested in the project, sit in on LEED charrettes with the team, and learn a whole lot about AEC, its processes, and the way its many teams work together. This project will be in our hearts forever.

Huge Gratitude and Congratulations to Webcor and the whole CMS team!

Site photo from SFGate, August, 2011
Site photo from SFGate, August, 2011