TEEM Case STudies

See how TEEM is helping industry professionals like you get the results you need:

R&D Teams

THE CHALLENGE

Gus, a Senior R&D Director for a well-known S&P 100 tech company, came to us wanting to explore bio-inspired innovation concepts for the company's next product line. He told us his team of engineers and designers were very talented, but struggled with some issues common to creative teams. They were plagued by:

  • Reluctance to adopt new approaches
  • Slow reaction to new competition
  • Slow response to changing technologies and consumer preferences
  • Internal mistrust and turf battles
  • A dwindling innovation pipeline
  • Incremental improvements over game-changers
  • Unequal contributions from team members
  • Bureaucratic and structural inertia
  • Trouble acquiring and retaining talent
  • Inclusion and diversity issues
  • Information silos

We provided Gus and his team with:

  • An initial Biological Strategy Whitepaper outlining diverse analogous solutions found in nature, with initial suggestions on design applications
  • An Expand Your Niche Biomimicry Design Charrette supported the team in strategic ideation
  • A subsequent Biomimicry Report went into more detail on the mechanics of those biological strategies selected by the team, integrated the team's design ideation, and suggested next steps

The team came alive with this process, and asked us to help them develop their innovation culture with an Evolving TEEM Culture Workshop.

Results
  • The team was inspired and the innovation pipeline grew dramatically
  • Several ideas produced step-changes in performance, and one became a best-selling industry disruptor
  • A no-penalty innovation culture emerged, eliciting more diverse voices and contributions
  • The marketing department developed a compelling story around the process
  • Energy and material waste decreased dramatically as nature's strategies permeated the company identity
  • Employee and customer engagement doubled, as the brand doubled down on authenticity and purpose

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP

THE CHALLENGE

Russell, a Senior HR Director, had big ideas and was eager to move them forward, but was increasingly frustrated by persistent disengagement and inertia:

  • Constant need to motivate workers and mediate conflict
  • Employees were reluctant to change behaviors and adopt new processes
  • High turnover and absenteeism
  • Lack of engagement and commitment
  • Endless series of unproductive meetings
  • Stagnant innovation
  • Cultural silos exacerbated by a recent acquisition
  • Bureaucratic inertia
  • Turf battles and resource competition
  • Information hoarding between teams and departments

Russell complained "I know my people are all-stars, but where's my dream team?" We suggested he issue open invitation across departments to our TEEM Culture Workshop series, and soon we had a core team of passionate teemers working to make change.

Results
  • Newfound clarity on identity, core values, and compelling purpose
  • Core team began "flash teaming" around specific goals
  • Participants began consciously working in groups of three, and networks became the norm
  • Team language shifted noticeably from "I, me, my" to "we"
  • The number and length of meetings declined as flash teams and triads began making more decisions
  • Innovation exploded, as the team increased communication with experts from other fields and departments
  • Employees reported a sense of accomplishment in something that mattered to them. Engagement increased, and the company became a more desirable and competitive place to work.
  • Russell's days were no longer consumed with conflict management.
  • Tenure length increased and sick days went down. Team members reported less stress and greater well-being
  • Russell commented that the simple changes had "multiplied the results of our efforts."

ENTREPRENEURS

THE CHALLENGE

Camille was an experienced entrepreneur, a high-paced go-getter who seemed to know everyone. She'd worked corporate for 15 years and finally made the decision to start her own business. She didn't miss the bureaucracy and politics, and was passionate about her hard-won independence. She spoke of how important it was for her to run a "heart-centered business" that valued authentic relationships, and hoped to inspire other women to follow their dreams. Success was exciting, but the idea of scaling up was daunting:

  • No matter how hard she worked, there never seemed to be enough time or support
  • She often wished she had "another me"—someone that shared her commitment and passion and could be trusted to move things forward
  • The meetings and decisions seemed endless
  • She worried she was neglecting her vision and strategy, constantly working IN her business instead of ON it
  • She worried about maintaining her company's purpose-driven and innovative culture as it grew
  • She knew she needed to grow her team, but struggled to find the time and money to train and hire

Camille took one of our online courses for Entrepreneurs, then decided to join the TEEM Lab, taking TEEM Workshops and networking with like-minded locals at TEEM Dinner Salons and other events.

Results
  • She began consciously relying on triads to resolve conflicts, develop people, build trust, momentum, and opportunity
  • Her network exploded from hundreds to thousands
  • She began consciously igniting flash teams, while sharing ideas, learning, and opportunity with her network to accomplish her bigger goals
  • Outside experts and clients became her creative partners
  • She worked fewer hours, but accomplished 30% more
  • She renewed focus on Her Why, and discovered infectious new energy, clarity, and passion
  • Her health improved. She felt more alive, had more fun, and more time for self-care
  • She built long-lasting co-creative relationships with her clients that went beyond their business transactions. Her marketing spend decreased as word of mouth spread
  • She felt more respected, experienced greater loyalty, saw her legacy moving forward, and enjoyed enduring success. Trade groups began asking her to share her story, and her speaking invitations (and fees) increased dramatically.

INTRAPRENEURS AND CHANGE-MAKERS

THE CHALLENGE

Dana cared deeply about social justice and the environment. She was saddened by the Walmart-ization of her community, and appalled at the waste she saw everywhere. She found herself on the edge of despair, worrying for her children's future. It especially upset her that her own company created so much plastic waste. She asked her boss if they could use a more ecologically-minded supplier, but he denied her request. She thought about changing jobs or starting her own business, but her young family depended on the steady paycheck and benefits. She tried not to care too much—it was just a job after all. So, she focused on developing her own portfolio of skillsets, taking online classes, and networking outside of work. That's how she met Erik, an engineer who's "stupid boss" was always shutting down his ideas. Nothing ever seemed to change unless he ignored the rules, and his motto was “Ask forgiveness, not permission.” Dana and Erik joked they were like a "support group for the oppressed in the ghetto of corporate despair":

  • Their co-workers clustered in tight gossipy bands
  • "Smart" workers were sarcastic, resigned, and cynical. They kept their passions private and tried to insulate themselves from managerial intrusion
  • Conversations focused on management incompetence and how workers were "getting screwed"
  • There seemed to be no opportunity or desire for creative thinking
  • The company's "mission” was just lip-service. Cost-cutting and profits were all that really mattered.
  • People in other departments hoarded information and resources.
  • Tiresome dominance posturing and politics from managers and execs.
  • Their co-workers did the minimum to get by. "It’s not my job."
  • Never enough time or support. "I'm surrounded by incompetent, uncaring people, so I have to pick up the slack."

Dana and Erik met Amy, who worked in HR and was reading TEEMING. Together, the trio started an afterwork book club—"Teemers." With some effort, they convinced HR to bring Dr. Tamsin in for a voluntary half-day Evolve Your Innovation Culture workshop, which attracted people across the company, and ignited a small movement.

Results
  • The triad focused on their Why and vision, then crafted a message design to reach those ready to join them, working within the company for change.
  • This small network of passionate people envisioned something that was bigger than what they could do alone, and began cultivating informal "flash teams" to go to work on it.
  • Each realized they could only move forward by bringing others with them. They shopped systematically for like-minded people, and networked them into flash teams that worked to create teeming hotspots of trust and teamwork in whatever small ways they could.
  • The Teemers saw their networks explode from hundreds to thousands. Gradually, relationships shifted from "power-dynamic dyads" to "responsibility-sharing triads."
  • Interpersonal conflict declined, and personal well-being increased.
  • Teemers reported new creativity and collaboration, "felt more alive," and had more fun.
  • As they saw their efforts succeed, they set their sights on increasingly ambitious and meaningful goals.
  • Management noticed their success. They were asked to share their story, so other groups could replicate it.

More case studies

THE CHALLENGE

What does teeming look like in action? Here are the stories of some companies that exemplify the TEEM Approach:

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