Enhancing TEC Group Performance: Establishing Vision and Direction

Don Schmincke




At the international conference for TEC, which 150 people attended, the word that kept coming up was “laboratory,” a CEO laboratory. TEC is a place–the only place for many–where members can work, develop, and take some risks before going back to their companies. TEC is the most powerful microcosm for CEO focus.


You can implement in your group anything the resources come to talk about. It’s a moment of truth. How effective can you be as a leader if you can’t first take action in a safe environment with highly skilled people right there?


TEC meetings are different from seminars, conferences, or tapes. There is an unusual level of support. Conferences may help increase knowledge and improve skills, but in a short period of time old behavior starts again.


Meetings go through the same kinds of experiences and transformations as industries do. New TEC groups have their own priorities and encounter a different series of experiences depending on the curve they are on.


There are different levels of experience in TEC groups and transformation in any group. The question isn’t how you can avoid it, but rather when it will happen and what you will do to deal with it. Is it a new game for you, or are you rocketing in it? Where are you in the process?



There are also ups and downs in any group. Economic factors have an impact, but those don’t mean you are at the end of the curve. You have to readjust to those influences.


You don’t change the content of what you are doing, although you may change the values and beliefs of why you are doing what you do and your commitment in that area.




At this point, the group did an exercise that is helpful when there are questions and you want to get an idea of what people are thinking, but you don’t have time to do a serial channel. This process is called a “parallel channel” or “parallel processing.”


TEC members took cards and markers to record responses to: “What is missing for me is _______ Members filled in the blank, listing one idea per card; using no more than seven words. The speaker requested that they write a word or phrase, not a complete sentence. The cards were read to the group and hung up. Members had to post their cards, grouping the idea under similar or related issues that were highlighted on the other cards. New ideas were hung in a new column. The speaker then hung title cards above the columns to synthesize the information into issues.





The issues are a great indicator of something going on in the group around the group’s beliefs. The identified issues can help create new beliefs so there can be a new distinction about the group itself. That’s helpful when the group looks at its goal, mission, structure, and processes. Examine what you are believing about your group that is allowing the issues to be what they are.


There is a belief that the chair directs our effectiveness as a group and the chair leads the group. What would have to happen to get more empowerment? The group decided there had to be self-leadership and the group could empower the chair. There could be a shift in the roles.


The chair has the business experience and the process experience. There are degrees of difference between the two. How do you want your chair to be for you? What are your beliefs around your chair and what he/she should be? Your chair is an instrument of leadership. If you don’t like your process, your chair can make changes. This is different from the idea that the chair sets the agenda.


If what is holding you back is the notion that self-leadership takes more work, you can change it to the idea that self-leadership is easy, fun, and leads to higher returns.


Beliefs that TEC is different from our work can be changed to TEC celebrates our work. The next level is TEC takes time, which can be changed to TEC reduces time and makes dollars. You will be more powerful if you choose your beliefs versus letting them just show up.




You are taking the issues, making the distinctions, and deciding where to play. What do you want the mission of your group to be?


If you can create a mission for yourselves, you can take that back to your company. You can turn around the teams and work groups in your organization because you are able to do it in TEC. Make the mistakes in your group and learn how to work effectively back in your organization.

To get the depth and challenge, members need to create their own values, come prepared, and participate. If beliefs are such that the behavior only goes so far, the real issues never get uncovered, the breakthroughs never occur, and the real actions never happen at the level members want. Members need to give themselves permission to fully participate. Ask your group what is missing.



What do you want the goal of your group to be this year? Members brainstorm ideas which included the group as an idea generator, providing in-depth information, contrary thinking, business experiences, solutions, accountability, and incentive to think about tomorrow’s opportunities.


There can be two drives, giving and taking. The group decided they wanted the year’s mission to be personal business improvement that translates into results in the business. Members rely on each other to make it happen.




What are some ground rules to improve your group? Sometimes groups aren’t sure how they are behaving with each other. Ground rules are effective ways to have agreements about your behavior. They are a foundation to create the kind of high performance you want in the areas you need them. They may be areas in which there have been breakdowns in the management of meetings.


What ground rules would help you accomplish your goal and mission? Do you feel you can challenge each other?


One ground rule might be that the chair would be empowered to get the group back on the topic, whether with issues or the resource. Members agreed to use a model that the chair will keep out in front of the group to make certain the group is on track with the topic and process issues.



In this case, members decided to allow the chair to be aggressive in coaching and developing the issues–probing, articulating, and using the formal structure to do that. It was decided that it would be the option of the issue developer to send out the issues ahead of time.




Discuss themes you would like to explore in meetings. Are there personal themes to bring into meetings–leadership, negotiating style, financial planning?




In this particular group, a selection process has been devised to get a better quality member. A measurement device has been utilized, examining what the resource teaches in the group.

Measures were developed which include attendance, early leaves, late arrivals, and indicators of value.


The group decided to track goals and benefits, and valuation of the group experience. Time savings are tracked into tangible goal savings. They are reviewed quarterly. Goals for the year are documented. Yearly benefits are sent out in a form and read as a group.


The group does their own continuous improvement check list by evaluating themselves. At the end of meetings, check points are noted–what worked and what could be improved.



The group suggested setting up base categories and spending time on each one, going around the table and discussing what each member has done on those points and the achievements and errors made. Each month, the meeting could be opened up to discussion on a topic.


Tools and techniques reviewed included prepping the resource, checking the attendance at the start of each meeting, and examining individual achievements in functional areas.




Business and personal improvement and mission mean results both personally and in business. The group’s goal is to support that.


There are several tools to improve performance of the group. One is to prep the resource. Another is to check attendance at the start of the meeting so there aren’t surprises. The third is to review individual achievements and mistakes within functional areas of business to stimulate part of the issues section in the morning.


The ground rules include contributing to the executive session by preparing for issues and bringing them up. An issue is anything of interest to the member or anything the member thinks would be of interest to others. An issue will be followed up until resolved. An issue can be an opportunity or problem.


It was agreed to empower the chair to help the group get back on topic with the resource or issues, which includes using probing, articulating, and a formal structure. The members agreed to use a model to process issues in the group.


A luncheon will be set up and also a retreat or similar session away from the area. The resource will be tried in the afternoon. Three new members will be added by July. Actions around that were discussed. It takes four to six months to nominate new members. Determining an ongoing system for this process was suggested.


This presentation was highly tailored to this group. Schmincke will tailor this presentation to the individual TEC groups he presents to. These notes are meant to be a representation of how Schmincke approaches this topic with a group.


TEC – Enhancing TEC Group Performance Establishing Vision and Direction – Don Schmincke