Category: Workshop

Your Next Meeting Needs a Beekeeper

Everyone wants productive meetings. Often people come together in meetings and fall into a predictable pattern of behavior. The same people speak, the interaction is routine, the outcome is known, and the results are less than stellar.

Instead of complaining about your next meeting, why not do somethings differently? I offer the metaphor of a Hive to help give you some alternative possibilities. In nature, bees live in hives. Besides being home, a hive is an amazing place of highly evolved communication. The hive offers the means to live through interaction and communication.

Certain kinds of groupware can offer you and your team a new way to approach your meeting and a way to achieve extraordinary results. We love GroupMind for this work. We liken our groupware to a Hive. A question is posed. Thoughts appear in real time. Some are valuable others are not, but all are considered. Everyone in your meeting has a voice, and it becomes fun and exciting to see everyone’s thoughts at once, live and in person. We call this brainwriting as compared with brainstorming. The difference (and it’s a big one) is that the group facilitates its own process as new ideas emerge.

The sheer volume of ideas that are generated is often surprising to teams. New energy is released as everyone has the chance to share their thoughts on a topic. Brainstorming with a facilitator or with stickies is so slow and time-consuming in comparison. Brainstorming is especially problematic if the loudest extraverts take over the board and start judging the entries. We all have been in these sessions and they are slow, painful, and often forgettable.

The answer is a good beekeeper a solid process and an extraordinary set of tools. It’s a three-legged stool: facilitation, process, and technology all working together to give your team an entirely new way to think together. Let’s face it. Thinking is hard work, thinking in groups is even harder, and prioritizing what has been revealed in the discussion is the holy grail of meetings. To give this short shrift is to accept that your team will probably have another unproductive meeting.

What I am recommending is simple, but it’s not easy. Thinking well is a discipline, and in groups, it needs to be an inclusive discipline. Visual dialogue can be helpful and in our experience, it comes afterward. Pictures can help to create meaning by connecting ideas to concepts by creating metaphors that we can all understand. We see it all starting with words and sentences. Meaning is constructed out of our thoughts. As these thoughts become visible we see patterns, and patterns create avenues for divergent thinking. Later we can use convergent techniques to narrow down the most valuable ideas so that we may move forward together.

A highly trained beekeeper (facilitator) can help the group do its thinking work. She can suggest “moves” (techniques to advance thinking, compare alternatives, prioritize ideas etc.) that advance the conversation while tracking time, recording decisions and designing on the spot. She remains neutral, while the “bees” do their work, converting raw data into honey to maintain and sustain the team through time. A beekeeper can help design the before, during, and after experience of your meeting giving new continuity, energy, and life to your mission-critical decisions.

Some of the best companies are on to this type of thinking in groups. The technology has been around for the last 30 years and it’s been one of those best-kept secrets of high performing teams – especially global teams. Maybe now is the time to give it a try for you and your team. You might consider stopping talking about “design thinking” and learn how to design your teams thinking. We can show you how to get started with team beekeeping. To do what you have never done, you have to think in ways you have never thought. Our intensibe beekeeping school is starting soon. Request a description.

Introduction to High Performing Teams

The High Performing Teams Workshop

Overview and Design

Teams and team building are the critical concepts we cover in this half-day workshop. We offer a unique experience that illustrates the journey teams take on their way to high performance. Not many teams get there. Most give up somewhere along the way and become satisfied with OK performance that never lives up to their potential. We know from our work with hundreds of teams, this does not have to happen to your team.

Our discussion begins with illustrating the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model. We show the process that underlies solid team development that leads to high performance. We call our work “Immersive Facilitation.” From the very beginning of this session, we immerse the participants in a fun activity that illustrates the core issue of interdependence. The concept of interdependence is the glue that holds teams together and makes high performance possible.

We use the learning from our simulation to understand the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model, a unique graphic that is at once a map, a process, and vocabulary that enables team members to see where they are, where they want to be, and what they can do together to move themselves to high performance.

Our discussion begins at a high level focusing on the big picture of teams and team development. As we move through the workshop, we help participants to be able to use the model to do an assessment of their back home teams.

Team members learn the seven stages of team development as well as the keys to each stage. Improvement can begin at any stage and within any key. This new understanding gives participants a way to discuss team issues easily and productively.

Our work is strength-based and future-focused. We illustrate several practical next steps that teams can use to liven up their team, increase engagement, and align themselves with high performance.

One of the most important topics we cover is sub-grouping. All teams are made up of sub-groups. These “smaller teams” are how work actually flows through teamwork. If the sub-groups work well, the team thrives. If not, work slows down, irrelevant competition arises, and we get less than stellar results. The real secret to team building is learning how to optimize the sub-groups.

The end of our sessions always includes a check-in with all the participants about how they will apply the learning to help their own teams approach the critical choice-points necessary for moving into high performance. We have learned over many years of helping teams become extraordinary that “team issues” never resolve on their own, they must be worked.

This session is designed to be a high-value tasting session that introduces teamwork, and team development to our participants. We know from experience that real teamwork is led from everywhere. As safety develops, trust builds. Open communication and real-time feedback become norms. All of these factor into building a remarkable team. This introductory workshop illustrates the way to begin building high-performance teams. The participants leave with a new understanding of how to begin to enhance their own work team experience.


Our clients receive the real value from attending and participating in this session. They consistently identify the following:

The language of team development: From the stages a team’s journey to high-performance, participants learn the keys that support each stage and the actions that can be taken to move forward. Team members take away an easy way to describe their team’s development.

A way to do an assessment of their back home team. By learning the model and some actions that can be used on their own teams, participants learn how to assess their own team.

The power of sub-teams within a team. This little-known secret to team development creates a new understanding of “group dynamics,” making course corrections easier to understand.

The importance of feedback and openness to teams. Building trust and creating space for team members to say what needs to be said.

The importance of team membership. Real teams can be led from anywhere. Heating up team membership and getting ownership of results is a team responsibility.

• Introduction to additional resources. Access to a wide variety of additional readings, workshops, graphic templates, all time-tested, are presented as choices for optional follow-up.

Costs and Materials

Please call us for pricing.


Going in Reverse



Sometimes flipping your perspective leads to innovation. A number of years ago, I got to meet the great bicycle visionary, Dick Ryan. I have always been a big bike fan, and quite by accident got to see Dick’s prototype, the Avatar, a recumbent bicycle. In conceiving it, Dick flipped the concept of upright riding, and refined a kick back, lie back bicycle that immediately changed your perspective and yielded a far more comfortable ride. I just loved the feeling and as soon as they went into production, I bought one. And I have loved riding it for years.

Reversing doesn’t always yield respect though. Sometimes the spandex speedsters make fun of me, all smiles going slowly up a hill. They grimace, and yell, “Doesn’t that go faster.” My reply always is, “I got this to slow down.” They never say anything to me on downhills as the recumbent turns into a luge!

We teach this technique along with 27 others, to help people refine their innovative thinking skills. Flipping perspective can be a conscious choice, and you can get better at it with practice. It’s helpful to see other’s perspectives, and it develops the ability to see rather than just look. In our work, we call it the Reversing technique, and it’s a powerful way to gain insights not ordinarily available to us. Reversing often develops empathy and is an essential component to design thinking.

If you are ever near our headquarters and want to change your perspective, I am always willing to give you a ride on the Vanguard, Dick’s production name for his original Avatar. Come by and experience getting “bent” as they say in the lingo of recumbent riders. And, if you’d like to discuss our ITS (The Innovative Thinking System) workshop or become a trainer of ITS, give us a shout, McNeil Consulting is the Master Trainer company for the US market. We’d love to talk to you about turning work into play. Watch out for me and others on our recumbents. We see things differently.

Stand Out By Fitting In

Elverson, PA Sunflowers

You can find any number of articles written on how to stand out from the crowd, to differentiate yourself. The click bait is everywhere. Fitting in is another way to stand out. Collaboration is hard. It requires facing the group paradox head on and solving the I / We dilemma for your self. On real teams, members can lead from anywhere. They can suggest, support, give and take. Membership can be measured by how connected you feel you are to the team and the team’s goals. Heating up team membership is a powerful way to increase team productivity. And it’s done through the work of the individual members. Helping others on the team can be a real source of joy and celebration. On sport’s teams, we call it an “assist.”

Fitting in does not necessarily mean compromising your beliefs or values or giving away the store. On great teams, members learn to anticipate the needs of others and fill those needs quickly, often without talking. It’s wonderful to see this in action and even more enjoyable if you happen to be the recipient. In this context, fitting in is about increasing one’s awareness to include other members as well as the team. Humor, lightness, flexibility, and healthy self-deprecation can all be part of this way of working.

In our Life Orientations work (LIFO) we identify these team members as having an Adapting / Dealing style. What’s more, these preferences can be learned and practiced. When these behaviors become part of the group norm, you can expect surges in productivity, joy, celebration, and cohesion. These are truly memorable teams. Sure click on the promises of how to stand out, as long as you incorporate those ideas into how you can fit in by helping your team to succeed.

Reading People and Groups


Would you like to increase your Influence with the key people in your life?

Have you ever wondered why some people are so action-oriented, while others wait and reason everything out? Or why some people just run when conflict arises? This is your opportunity to understand the characteristics and typical behaviors that everyone displays, and learn how you can expand your ability to work as part of a group while valuing individual differences.

The LIFO® training session begins by helping you to understand your basic orientation to life and work, as well as the orientations of those that you interact with on a daily basis. You can rely on new knowledge that shows your basic orientation to life- what we call your “personal style”- or strengths, and you can learn new skills to maximize to your effectiveness in communicating with others.

LIFO® Training focuses on what’s positive about leaders, teams, and individuals. The LIFO® Method teaches you how to unlock the hidden potential of individuals and teams. LIFO® describes four orientations to personal behavior: Supporting Giving, Controlling Taking, Conserving Holding, and Adapting Dealing. These styles are presented along a low to high range scale and individuals most likely have a personal style that embraces a variety of these orientations. You are not boxed into a label, but rather your behavior flows among them given the circumstances of daily life. The program also shows your behavioral styles under stress. By fully understanding and learning how you can use and expand the use of your styles under different circumstances and with different people, you can enhance your professional career.

A one-day training program will allow you to explore how you can make more of your strengths and minimize ineffective behavior. During the session, participants will learn how to make decisions, deal with stress, implement personal growth plans, manage time and create an environment where you can feel rewarded and encouraged.

This is a unique opportunity to focus on you and expand your core abilities. Don’t miss out!

The Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model


We have made use of this model for over 25 years. It’s the most comprehensive team model out there. The model uses simple and direct language to describe the journey teams make on the way to high performance and beyond.

The value it brings to leaders is a visual statement that describes the seven stages of team development along with three keys for each stage. The keys give an easy to understand summary of the issues team members must face and then resolve on their way to high performance.

Using the model creates a structured way to hold meaningful dialogue about where the team is now, and what can team members do to enhance their productivity. The model makes it easy and simple to identify what has to be done and by whom. It also makes clear that team development is everyone’s business.

If you have any questions about it’s use or about how you can become certified in using the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Mode in your work, ask us about joining our guild. We help both external and internal consultants learn to use the model and integrate it into their consulting practice.