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US vs. THEM Mindsets – Found Often in Sports… Found Too Often in Business

Location: On-Site only
Length: One Day Seminar, Can Be Condensed for Keynote Delivery
Number of Participants: unlimited
Materials: Summary of slide content and pages for notes
Follow-Up Monitoring: 3-month follow-up with the ability to make phone calls and send emails to the instructor regarding questions specific to this training content.

Course Description: An US vs. THEM mindset belongs in sports, but not in business. We recognize symptoms of this mindset when managers and superintendents won’t work together, supervisors are inconsistent with crews, departments don’t deliver the service promised, and employees don’t trust management. Companies accept these actions and beliefs as “part of the culture” and say they can’t be changed. Losses associated with these behaviors can be significant but are not tracked, so you remain unaware of their impact on projects, earnings and culture. If you stack improvement initiatives on top of poor working relationships, you get disappointing results. You have been taught that process changes will help change culture. But… process changes cannot fix problems that were not caused by processes. Poor department relationships are rarely caused by processes, but by factors that originate within the management system. When poor relationships between departments are accepted as “part of the culture” or “just the way it is here”, they never get solved and losses related to these relationships continue to occur, hurting the bottom line and management’s credibility.

Connections between working relationships and performance, culture, projects and change will be exposed. A Sudoku group exercise will highlight the importance of the right communication strategy when setting expectations for performance. Management’s beliefs about their role in department relationships will also be covered. Executives and middle management will never go back to their old way of thinking about change and their role in change.


Morning Agenda: US vs. THEM Mindsets

  • Sports Analogy
  • Impacts on Performance, Culture, Projects and Change
  • Actual Business Cases that Illustrate US vs THEM mindsets – Engineering vs. Operations, Purchasing vs. Maintenance, Accounting vs. Marketing, Management vs. Workforce  
  • Sudoku Group Exercise*

Afternoon Agenda: US vs. THEM Assessment

  • Group lists examples of poor department relationships in their companies
  • Group discussion selects the “Top 10” for further exploration by the group.
  • Apply new insights and “a-ha moments” from morning session.
  • Management system linkages to the Top 10 Problems
  • Strategies for Bringing Departments Together and Strengthening Relationships
  • Action items to apply in the workplace
  • Summary of insights from group discussions, recap of takeaways.


Who Should Attend: Executives, Middle Management, Department Heads and Supervisors

Takeaways include:

  • Raised awareness about the impact of department relationships on performance, culture, projects and change.
  • Awareness of department silos as barriers to change.
  • New understanding of the losses associated with poor working relationships.
  • Strategies for improving performance without investing in systems or equipment.
  • New management insights about why companies struggle with change.
  • New awareness about the relationship between management choices and change.  
  • New perspectives about change that can be applied in the workplace the very next day


*Note about Sudoku Exercise:

Audiences get to "experience" the angst of poor working relationships while interactively solving a Sudoku puzzle in teams. I capture their learnings and we draw analogies between their “experience” in this session and their workplace - solving problems, communications, meeting targets, management effectiveness, etc. Audience feedback on this exercise has always been positive. This program is designed to change mindsets very quickly with a goal of helping a management team think as one mind and see the "big picture". Attendees often say they will immediately change the way they solve problems or interact with their peers as the result of what they learned in this exercise. I use this exercise frequently with my clients to bring departments together and help each group see their role in managing processes that stretch across multiple departments.


OptimiZ Consulting LLC