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Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead - an approach to cultivate creativity, vitality, and resilience in your company

If you want to develop a creative team that is going to adapt and really make things happen, then try Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead as an approach.  With Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead, the leader remains accountable for the effectiveness of the team and focuses on cultivating an environment and relationships that enable people to bring their full selves to their work.


The difference between Seed, Feed, Weed, and Lead and the more traditional Command and Control style is the palpable buzz that one feels when one is on a team or in an organization that is really engaging the mind and spirits of all those involved. When I worked with Doctors Without Borders, this is how it felt every day. There were lots of challenges and massive organizational issues, but because everyone was encouraged to bring their full selves to the endeavour, the organization and its teams were quick to adapt and learn. I am convinced that this approach was one of the keys to the organizations global success.


Seed, Feed, Weed, and Lead is often combined with a Command and Control approach. Each has it merits and its application but Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead provides the connective tissue that can incorporate Command and Control into certain traditional functions, teams or roles while enhancing the organization's overall ability to adapt and evolve. A design oriented culture encourages rapid prototyping and moves towards a project teams where groups collaborate to solve "wicked" problems. 

Trust is key to collaboration.


So here are the basic principles of Seed, Feed, Weed, and Lead.


Seed - Initiate good and healthy relationships
1. Define a clear team mission and goals that flows that is aligned with the organizational mission, values, and goals.
2. Hire and recruit people that are aligned with the team values and mission.
3. Ensure each person on the team understands what enables them as well as other team members to bring their full selves to the job.
4. Define clear roles so that everyone understands how the specific contribution of each team member will affect the outcome of the team
5. Structure your team eco-system to move information effectively and in a timely manner.
6. Create hierarchy only when it is expedient - otherwise keep intelligence distributed.


Feed - Nurture all people and systems that bring vitality and resilience to your team eco-system
1. Cultivate respect and clarity for the team mission and between team members
2. Provide good critical and timely feedback to your team-mates (and actively seek it about yourself as well).
3. Ensure that everyone in the team is communicating well
4. Encourage team members to create agile feedback loops with appropriate stakeholders to ensure to that the team is enabled to adapt as new information becomes available.


Weed - Ensure that the right people are in the right place
1. Dynamically adapt roles and functions within the team to bring out the best outcome.
2. Compassionately exit those who are drawing away energy and focus from the mission or whose primary values do not enhance the drive towards deepening performance and group health
3. Actively balance between divergent and convergent thinking in the group. A healthy group requires enough divergence to bring in creativity into the team process and enough convergence to ensure great outcomes. Too much divergence and the is outcome generally does not meet expectations of team-members or external performance expectations. Too little divergence and the group does not remain vital and adaptive.
4. Be discerning about what you are weeding. Frictional forces in an eco-system can create resilience and deepen the ability of the team to fulfill its mission.


Lead - Focus on Cultivating a Healthy Team Eco-system
1. Define, collaboratively develop and continuously communicate a clear and compelling end result, performance measures and team values.
2. Know the external context and maintain good feedback loops so that the group can adapt as needed to the opportunities and challenges that come up.
3. Engage each team member on what they need in their everyday to draw in their full expertise, creativity, and willingness to the team.
4. Monitor the environment in which the team is operating and provide feedback to the team. The team needs to know how it is performing in relation to the individuals and groups to which it provides value and draws upon for input.
5. Model and encourage good decision making and team values - eg. mean what you say, do what you mean.
6. Invest in developing strong high trust relationships between team members and tune the tream culture towards helping each other toward achieving the team mission.
7. Be prepared to compost. Be open to what needs to be undone in order to bring in freshness or enhanced creativity.
8. Continuously Feed, Seed, Weed and Lead.


Give Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead a consideration if you want to enhance creativity and build a healthy workplace.


Sit with it. Give it some time to take root. It takes a while to work through the socialization process of traditional Command and Control leadership style that is prevalent in so many organizations. Many team-members may become disoriented and even angry when they are not being spoon-fed instructions.
You'll know Seed, Feed, Weed, Lead is working for you and your organization when you start to feel that "buzz" of being on a team engaged in the act of creation. When the buzz falters, assess the situation according to the principles and follow the buzz. Soon your "creativity radar" and that of every team member  will be fully engaged.  Eventually it will provide you and everyone else with the information and direction you need in order to sustain the buzz. The team environment will create good soil for individual team members to bring their full ability to the team and as team members become more fully engaged. they further enable the team environment. From there the creativity and effectiveness of the team is self-sustaining.

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