I like to look to nature for insights into leadership and teamwork. You know what I mean if you have seen The Nature of Excellence. Just recently, I was reminded of the power of nature’s lessons – that team synergy produces creative and extraordinary results.

On the evening of March 31, 2009, Tim Tevebaugh was driving home from work east of Craigmont in the southern Idaho Panhandle. Across the rolling hay fields, Tim saw a very unusual phenomenon.

The snow rollers that he photgraphed are extremely rare because of the unique combination of snow, wind, temperature and moisture needed to create them. They form with light but sticky snow and strong (but not too strong) winds. These snow rollers formed during the day as they weren’t present in the morning on Tim’s drive to work.

See more photos here

When was the last time your team created a “snow roller”? A solution or product of rare distinction and uniqueness. In order to perform with such snowball synergy, several key elements must line up.

Here is a simple, practical model of team effectiveness that will help your team create its own amazing results… whether it’s your team at home or at work.

Team Synergy Model

The key to using this model is to start from the top down. Clarify the top three levels – goals, roles and procedures – and you are well on your way to synergistic team performance. Conversely, unclear goals, roles or procedures can be masked as interpersonal problems.

For example, if our goals are not clear and agreed upon, we might be working in different directions, both of us perceiving the other as having a hidden agenda or of not being a team player. Likewise, if our internal procedures are not well-defined, I might send a report to a client before giving it to you for a peer quality check. As a result, you might think I am cutting you out of the process or am not concerned about our team’s quality.

Here are some diagnostic questions you can ask to help determine which level of the model you should focus on to ensure high team synergy.


  • Does the team have a clear goal?
  • Do team members feel personally committed to the goal?


  • Are roles clearly defined and documented?
  • Are the leader’s and team member’s role expectations consistent?
  • Do the roles conflict, overlap or leave important tasks unattended?


  • Are there defined and agreed to procedures for how the team will: make decisions, share information, coordinate hand-offs, review work, challenge prevailing thought, prioritize and resolve conflict?


  • Do team members know and appreciate the different knowledge, skills and perspectives that each of them brings?
  • Do team members trust each other to perform in their roles?

If you would like your team to start feeling that snowball synergy, contact us today.