Hi, I’m Charlie Grantham. I’m a virtual teammate of Trina’s at The SMART Workplace. As you can imagine, the entire working SMART team has been busy pulling this venture together as we go live.

The shear amount of communication is mind boggling. The number of software platforms that need to be vetted and then integrated into one whole is amazing. That’s not even talking about building up content. Anyway, somewhere in all this as we are working out the kinks, it occurred to us that we are really living out what we are suggesting other people do in their work lives. OK, been there, done that, got the T shirt. But so what?

We don’t want to go off into woo-woo land, but I thought that a couple of my observations about our own virtual work process might be helpful before the SMART Workplace blog’s heavy lifting begins over the coming weeks.


My 1st observation is about the power of intention.

Why are we doing this? What exactly is it that we each can contribute? What is it that we intend to accomplish? Who do we serve best? The interesting thing is that we all fell to this very quickly. Maybe it is because all of us shared connections and friendships with other members of the core team, or maybe all of us are in a similar life cycle stage. It’s about helping others live a higher quality of life. And we all believe that a great leverage point for that is how everyone works. So, that’s where we are focused – helping create smarter workplaces for real people.

That should not come as a surprise to professionals like Trina and me with our experience in organization development! Others like Drexler-Sibbett have been harping on the need to get everyone on the same page, so to speak, as the necessary first step in high performance. Well, our self-observing reflections certainly bear that out.

And here I think is where the magic occurs. We don’t just assume– we check back frequently to make sure everyone is operating out of the same intent and purpose. Which means, incidentally, that we would not bring someone else into the team who didn’t share a commitment to our purpose.


The 2nd team dynamic I observed is that collaboration is leveraged when teams talk.

There are many ways people can work together with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. The schema we use has three levels of group work: coordination, cooperation and collaboration. I’ll explain by way of metaphor.

Let’s say the purpose of a small group (say four in our example) is intent on moving a ball (or whatever) from where one person stands to a bucket next to where the last person stands. Now think of them all positioned in a line. Coordination would be where person A hands the ball to person B and so on. Each person only has to take the ball, change hands and pass it to the next without any thought about the process.

Now let’s move that up a notch. We introduce another party who calls out the rhythm of the ball passing. It speeds up; it slows down. Now everyone has to cooperate within the rhythm of the dance so no one drops a ball. Notice that we have added a degree of knowledge about what’s coming at you and what you are passing on. And you’ve begun working in coordination as a unit.


Lastly, (and this is where we find ourselves operating at The SMART Workplace) there is true collaboration.

Take the same process and add some complexity where each person is not only passing a ball but is also juggling three balls.  In order for the process to work smoothly, each person has to sense and trust in what every other person is doing. No time to think about it, no time to ask, you just know. One of my favorite sports is basketball because a high performing team looks like a well crafted dance. Everybody knows where everyone else is, what they can expect them to do and trust anyone will sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team.

Whew, that was a long way around my observations. But that’s what we have learned. Lot’s of conversation at first, clarifying terms, sorting out people’s styles and being very clear on what each person enjoys and should be doing – before passing that first ball. The basic difference in these ways of working is the underlying degree of trust that exists between team members.

As a treat, if you want to know what trust looks like when it breaks down, Go here.

And all of this means, just what? It means you can learn from our own work team habits. Sounds like a simple assignment, but in our estimation, paying attention is absolutely critical. So write that on the wall. INTENTION SETTING. COLLABORATION. COMMUNICATION. Make these your watch words.

Join Trina, me and the team for next Wednesday’s SMART Workplace post. Now for me, it’s on with the working SMART show. Subscribe below so you don’t miss a post. We also look forward to your comments and some lively conversations