From Reactive to Proactive





ID-10071284We are so often caught up in the reactive, and it is an inevitable part of life and business.  There is too much data to be able to anticipate all of it coming at us.  So how do we make a transition from reactive to preemptive?

Know the Destination

You can’t go somewhere unless you know where you are going.  Simple, I know.  But do you jump in your car to go somewhere without having a destination in mind?  Probably not.  So what does your professional destination look like?

Taking time to plan an endgame is necessary for a huge transition.  You need to be able to define success not only for you as a leader, but for the team as well so that there is a sense of momentum and, ultimately, accomplishment.

Set up Your Waypoints

Every flight plan has waypoints, intermediate destinations that help to set the overall course.  Your journey from Reactive to Proactive should have waypoints as well.  In Project Management they are called Milestones.

The purpose of the waypoint is to provide you with a series of connected destinations that help to ensure a safe path is set and that you are moving in the right direction.  You can choose your waypoints to be in units of time, percent completion, accomplishment of specific events, or even arrival of the destination for only a part of the entire vision (completing the journey for one product line before expanding to another).

Understand Your Compromises

It’s difficult to get everything you want.  By knowing where you need to compromise you allow yourself a safety that will prevent you and your team from being discouraged.  Know where you can balk and where you mustn’t in order to help ensure success.  Some areas cannot be compromised, define them.  Others can be sacrificial should circumstances require it, be ready to sacrifice.

Communicate Your Destination

Give others the vision you have.  Allow your team and your supporters to envision the destination with you.  Take every moment you have to describe your destination in detail.  Outline how it looks and give them the ability to see it with you.  This will make others hungry to help you succeed.

If I told you we were going on a road trip your first question would be, “Where to?”  If I simply said, “West,” that wouldn’t be very motivating.  If I said, “The beach,” that might be more motivating.  But if I took the time to describe the beach, how it looked at sunset, the warm breeze that blew on my face, the sound of the waves crashing on the nearby cliffs, and the long boardwalk the stretched over the water, you might be more excited about going there.

Invest in the Change

Change is a movement of inertia.  The organization has momentum in its current direction.  If you want to change that direction, you have to be willing to invest in the force required to overcome that inertia.  This investment may come in the form of additional people, a new technology, external support, rebranding and marketing, or a number of other things that will give you the force needed to change your momentum.

Celebrate the Change

I am a big fan of celebrations.  They can come in small forms of encouragement or lavish company parties.  The purpose is to keep people motivated.  Once you have gained a little momentum in the new direction you have to keep pushing.  Celebrations as simple as a pat on the back can help to accelerate your change.

The Challenge

If you are in the midst of a change, look at your flight plan.  Do you know the destination?  Do you have your waypoints?  Do you know where you may have to make compromises?  Have you visualized your destination and shared that with others?  Have you made the proper investments?

If not, take the time to figure it out.

Do you see a need for moving from reactive to proactive in your business, in your life?  Start today with planning on how to get to your destination.


Are You Working on the Right Things? Getting the bang for your buck.


Dog-catches-own-tail_1We all chase our tails at some point in our careers.  Some of us more than others.  We are looking for a result that is not even possible to achieve but we are so consumed with the chase that we aren’t even looking beyond the circle in which we are spinning.

I had such a situation when I was managing a production department.  I was tasked by my managers to reduce changeover times on my high-speed bottling lines.  Changeovers accounted for over 8 hours of downtime each week.  When you cyphered how much production that amounted to it became quiet the priority to reduce that number.  It was also the number one cause of downtime on my production lines when Pareto’d with all of the other documented downtime reasons in my department.

As a result of the data, we were putting a lot of time and energy into reducing changeover times.  We were trying alternative crewing, modification of equipment parts, timing of lunches and breaks and alternative scheduling whenever possible.  We did see some modest improvements, but nothing that removed changeovers from the top spot of the downtime list.

During a meeting I was asked by the V.P. what the improvement on the line would be if we were to reduce changeovers.  Through all of the efforts we had made, we had never stopped to ask the simple question of the potential of the improvements.  So, I answered with a political, “I’ll get back to you on that,” and I went to my office to crunch the numbers.

It turned out that we were only capturing 20% of our actual non-productive time (some of that was in reduced performance and minor stops as well as untracked downtime events).  But changeovers were tracked 100% of the time.  Using these numbers along with our scheduled run time over the previous year I learned that changeovers only accounted for 7% of our inefficiencies.  Even if we were able to cut changeovers in half we would only realize a 3.5% gain in efficiency on the line.  My lines were running at an average of 85% efficiency (against an accounting standard, that is a whole other topic) when my budget was 98% efficiency (again, a whole other topic).

All of that effort wasn’t going to get me even close to my goal.  My efforts had to be in other areas and it would take a combination of improvements to get to where I wanted to go.  I immediately changed by tactic and went back to the meeting with a whole new approach on how to improve my production.

Excited about the new opportunity, I began informing the V.P. of my intentions and how they would better our systems.  His reply, “That’s great, but when are you going to get changeovers down?”

The moral of the story is that you need to look at the potential gains before you invest all of the effort.  This can be a hard science application like my example, or building a team, or investing in the development of an individual (you can’t send a duck to eagle school, see here, and here).  Understanding what you can gain will not only give you proper motivation when the gain is significant, it will help you set a plan to put the efforts of you and, more importantly, your team in the right proportions to maximize success and reduce frustration.  In short, as Mr. Stephen Covey stated, “Begin with the End in Mind.”


Project Management Gone Awry


One of the nice things about being American is that the government always gives us an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.  It doesn’t matter your political views, government is messed up.

So with the latest fiasco with Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act, if you prefer…but Obamacare is so much easier to say) we can see how the website rollout was a poorly managed project.  Let’s do some inferring and see why.

A project is really about syncing three things: Scope, Quality, Time.  Let’s look at how these things are interconnected and how we can make sure we observe some basic understanding of what to do.

The scope must not have been well defined for the website since the major issue was that too many people were trying to log on at once.  This should have been projected as a risk during the definition portion of the project and a mitigation strategy designed.  Now, I am not a web designer or network engineer, so please forgive the errors I may state and feel free to correct me if you have knowledge in these areas.

The system should have been designed to manage the peaks of the users.  The traffic should have been projected and then doubled.  I know that some of the States had their own systems and that needed to be factored in as well.  But there are mathematicians that can help with the statistics.  There are design criteria for the servers and workflow processes.  Some users could have been given a “sorry” message rather than having their information lost when applying for healthcare.

Obviously, the timeline was not reasonable since the website clearly wasn’t ready.  This should have been a pushback to the White House.  Another option would be to cut back the scope or quality of the site, but since that was probably not a good option, they should have delayed the start.

In the political environment, you have to pay attention to what is promised to the people.  The web site designers should have been regularly communicating with the President (their Sponsor) who in turn is communicating to the people (the Stakeholders).  The President and system designers should have been on the same page with timing, capability, and expectations so that everyone understood what was going to happen.  If it would have been stated that the site could only handle so many users, it would have been better received when there were issues and the corrections could have happened immediately.


  • Clearly understand your objectives and create a comprehensive scope.
  • Listen to your Sponsor.
  • Predict the needs of the users.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.

As with Leadership, Project Management boils down to communication.  Communication of expectations, progress, and reality.  We all want an optimist to lead, but reality has to be part of what is communicated.  People can tell the difference between hope and reality if you give them the information to distinguish between the two.

The Value of Steady Eddie

steady eddie

We don’t really talk about playing to other’s strengths.  But as leaders, that is what we must do.  It is that ability to think like someone else and to understand his strengths and weaknesses that makes a good leader.  But knowing how far to stretch people and when to bolster their abilities is a delicate dance.  When we focus too much on putting people ‘out of their comfort zones’ or creating ‘developmental plans’ is when we basically create a negative environment, no matter how positively we try to spin it (“I’m here to help you get better”).

Cue the “Steady Eddie”: the guy that comes to work every day to do the same job and goes home happy about it, that supervisor that has been a supervisor for 20 years and doesn’t really want that management job, that person that does a good job day in and day out.  This person usually has no desire to move out of his current role, nor does he care too much about changing things up.  There is usually a small sense company loyalty closely knit to a sense of entitlement.

My thought is that every leader can use a good Steady Eddie.  Steady Eddie is a guy from whom you can learn the technical aspects of the job.  Steady Eddie usually has the respect of his team simply because of his knowledge of the job.  Steady Eddie knows crap when he smells it and can give you a perspective of the culture (although it can be a tainted one, so be prepared to take it with a grain of salt).  Steady Eddie is also the guy that can train future leaders on the how-to’s.

However, don’t expect stellar performance from Steady Eddie.  Usually he is happy to go home as soon as the day is done and he doesn’t want to step out of his comfort zone very often.  That’s manageable, however, since you aren’t expecting him to grow leaps and bounds.  Steady Eddie can be the constant in the department, but that also can mean a resistance to change.  This is usually accompanied with statements like “well we used to do it like this and I don’t know why we ever stopped” or “we’ve tried that and it didn’t work”.

In today’s society we often discount Steady Eddie and say that if he can’t change then we don’t need him.  He is so knowledgeable we expect him to take on more work and be a natural leader.  But understand that you can test the waters and see if Eddie is willing to do these things.  If not, it doesn’t mean that he can’t be a part of the team, but that his growth is limited and that change will come more slowly for him.  This is when you play to Steady Eddie’s strengths, that is when you will see Eddie stand up to the plate and hit a homer while most days he is a base hit.  Give Eddie something in his wheelhouse and watch him work.  You will get a good job done quickly.  Put him too far out of the comfort zone and Eddie will suffer, and so will your team.

Why to Say “No” to a Customer


image from:

It can be tempting to do what your client asks of you even when you know it will be wrong or it will not work.  After all, “she is the customer and the customer is always right.”  Below are a few reasons why you should be willing to tell your client no and even to be willing to walk away from the job.

You Have Professional Integrity

You are partnering with a client because they need your expertise.  They should be hiring you because they are not in the position to do the job themselves.  This should put you in a position of knowing the pros and cons of the job.  Take the time to walk through it with your client (after all you may have missed something) and be willing to explain yourself several times.  If it gets to a point that you are being pushed into something you don’t like, for whatever reason, be willing to walk away.

They Will Respect You

No one respects a pushover.  No one respects pushy people either.  You have to be ready to temper your customer service with professional resolve and vice versa.  A soft approach is the best way to take a hard line.

You Have Their Best Interests In Mind

If you are willing to do whatever they ask, they don’t need you.  You become a second pair of hands and that it not fun.  What you want to be is a trusted partner, and that means you contribute knowledge and expertise.  Letting the client know that you want them to be successful is how you can make sure you never put yourself in a position to be blamed for your project failing.

If you are tactful and professional you can make sure that you only work on the projects that will make a difference for your clients.  This is what will make you stand out and give you a great reputation.  If you are in a position where you have a direct boss within an organization there will be times that you have to do what you may not think is best.  But don’t be afraid to speak your mind and get your ideas on the table.

How can you say “no” to clients and customers?

Building Something Amazing Takes Time


I’m not a patient person. I want results now. But no matter how much I want those results now I still have to wait for them. The bigger the result, the longer I have to wait.

Building a System
When we put together programs and systems it takes a very long time not only because systems are typically complex, having to consider and negotiate inherent exceptions to the rule, but also because it takes people to run these programs and helping them accept change takes considerable thought, planning and time. Whether managing a project where a new program is being constructed or implementing a new CMMS where it takes months of collecting and inputting data, these systems test our patience.

Building a Culture
Culture can happen organically or it can be directed and focused. Ideally, it is the latter, whereby we set guiding values and bring in people that embody those values while shaping the behaviors within our groups to demonstrate our commitment to them. This is deliberate and time consuming. Considering that the topography of our personnel landscape is constantly changing, it means that this is a never-ending job to manage and can create tedious pressures that demand the most of us.

Forging the Way
Major initiatives don’t happen over a single night. It takes a lot of strategy, typically years of it, and it requires vision into the future. Gaining the right knowledge and creating the plans are only the beginning of blazing the trails to new horizons. The less traveled the road, the longer it will take to get to the destination.

Keeping the Motivation

  1. Understand your goal. Know the payoff that will come with the patience you need. Envision all of the ways this undertaking will benefit you and others. Think of the intangible benefits as well.
  2. Build a support team. Create the passion for the goal in others and get them to buy in to the program. With others having passion for the goal it will keep you on task and help you to endure the time it takes to achieve it.
  3. Count the hours. If your goal is truly time-based, mark down the calendar. You will see a physical change and look forward to crossing the days off of the list.
  4. Create milestones. Set smaller, step-wise accomplishments that are necessary to achieve the overall goal. Celebrate making the milestones and keep up the morale of you and your team.
  5. Practice makes perfect. Be willing to keep adding goals that are further and further into the future. The more you exercise patience, the easier it will come for you.

In our society of short-term gains it is important to understand that long-term payoff is usually much larger and more significant. That 1-year payback is nothing compared to the ten things that you can create over ten years that will payback tenfold.

How else can you practice patience?

Take Care of the Little Things


As Project Leaders we are usually have skills regarding our attention to detail.  But we are also usually very neglectful of the “soft” side of project management (which is why I prefer to use the term “Project Leader” as a reminder that projects involve the personal component just as much as the technical).  So when I want to write something regarding the little things, I am not just talking about the technical, task-related items that are part of a project.  Below are 5 little things to take care of while you are managing the tasks of a project.

It is easy to mismanage our tone when we are working on a project.  We can become so focused on accomplishing tasks and getting updates that we forget that there is a person that is working on this for us.  Often times we are doing these updates via phone (a conference call is typical) and we want to be efficient and not waste other’s time.  However, forgetting to be appreciative and approachable can cost us in the long run.

Don’t forget that you are serving the needs of those that are working on the project just as much as they are serving yours.  It is necessary that you be timely with responses and due dates as well.  There is a lot to manage when running a project, but providing information to those that are managing tasks is one of the most important things you can do as a project leader.  Give realistic commitments and keep them.  This is one of the easiest ways to lead by example.

Keeping up is necessary.  90% of what a project manager does is communicate.  Make sure that you are getting the latest information to everyone and keep yourself current on the progress of all of the parts of your project.  You may not know the details, but that is okay.  Just know where the project is and how it may affect the other pieces.  Keep others up-to-date as best as you can.

Take a Break
We all need to recharge.  Make sure you are taking the time to recharge yourself and your team.  If you don’t take a break you may find yourself completing subpar work and settling for mediocrity.

Take Turns
Whenever possible find a backup that can help with some of the duties required of you so that you can be there to support the team.  Let someone else lead a meeting so that you can take some one-on-one time with a member that needs that extra support.  This also provides development tools for other members of the team that may need to work on some of these skills.

These little things can add up to big things in the long-run.  Don’t discount the power that these small tasks have on your project and your team.

What are little things you have done to make a big difference?

How have leaders impacted you by taking care of the little things?

Helpful One-Liners


There are a lot of one-liners that are useful and can teach us something.  I made a list of my top 5 and put a little something to them about what they mean personally to me.

1)      You reap what you sow.

Literally, it makes a lot of sense: I plant soybeans then I harvest soybeans.  Being from Central Illinois I have seen a lot of soybean and corn fields and I have yet to see a farmer plant corn and harvest soybeans.  But, with GMO products, who knows what could happen one day (but that is another blog for another time).

In Leadership, I think this is so true that it is haunting.  Our team is a reflection of us as leaders.  If our team is squabbling and bickering and high-maintenance, guess who is to blame.  If our team is incompetent and dependent upon us to get things done, guess who is to blame.  If our team is dysfunctional and non-productive, guess who is to blame.

We sow the attitudes, abilities, and behaviors of our teams.  You have designed your team to act the way they are acting, so you only have to look at yourself to find out how to change results.  Sobering…

2)      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Talk about an oldie but a goodie!  The Golden Rule is golden because of the inherent truth that comes from it.  As Leaders we have to embody this rule every day.  We must expect it from others, but more importantly we must expect if of ourselves (obviously, because if we follow the rule we would expect it of ourselves if we expect it of others).

This rule expresses the essence of so many traits; fairness, kindness, loyalty, respect, maturity, honesty…  Because of this rule you can explain these very difficult, abstract concepts to a child.  So why is it so hard to follow this rule as mature adults?

3)      It’s not what you say but how you say it.

I hate to admit it, especially publicly, but my dad was right.  I remember him saying this to me as a child so much that I hated it.  As he started the phrase I would finish it in a mocking voice (thus proving his point) and then walk away thinking it was the dumbest thing anyone could say.  Now, I know how important tone, phrasing, body language, and approach are for any conversation, especially those difficult ones.

How we say things can often mean more than the message we are conveying.  If we are compassionate about what we are saying, if we take interest in who we are saying it to, if we are conscious of all of the things that make what we are saying have more impact and reinforce the message, then we are better communicators and better leaders.

See this post for a great reference from a great movie.

4)      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

I often get hung up on what I don’t have instead of appreciating what I do have.  I mean that personally and as a Leader.  I want a bigger budget, I want more people, and I want more skills in my team.   So, instead of appreciating what I have and taking an interest in my team I find myself looking outside my group for the things I want.

Really what we should be doing is appreciating the people we have and investing in them appropriately.  Our team could probably help us find ways to work within our budget, get more done in less time with the same team, and we should invest in our people to grow the skills that are needed.

Look at what you have and find ways to do more.  Your team can help if you just let them.

5)      You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

I’m not quite sure how this phrase started, but it’s true.  I don’t think I have ever seen flies hovering around a vinegar bottle.  Still, I like the meaning.

I think this whole phrase boils down to approach.  If I want someone to do something, is it better to yell and berate him until it is done or to take an approach that is more appreciative and communicate the need?  Granted, the latter takes more time, but it gets better results.

The long-term benefits are massive.  As your approach is better, people feel more valued.  Valued people take more of an interest in what they are doing and, as a result, are more focused and are more productive with fewer errors.  Before long, you have a whole lot of very productive and happy flies around your honey jar.

How do these phrases connect with you?

What are some other phrases that help you stay on point?

Providing Choices


When you look at a group of tomatoes at the store from a distance, they all look the same.  That doesn’t make for excitement.  It doesn’t make me feel like I have options.  If I want a tomato, I get that type of a tomato.  It’s kind of like getting a Model T in fire-engine red…not going to happen.

People like choices, and as Project Leaders, we need to understand that desire.  Sales people have been using this tactic for decades. 

Don’t give people the option to say “no”, give them options on how to say “yes”.

As a Project Leader, you are a salesman, whether you want to be or not.  You have to sell your solution, your method, your team choice, your timeline, your budget, and your abilities.  These are all points of sale, and if you provide options, you will sell more.

The Solution & Budget

Selling the solution seems like it should be the last step, but it is the first.  Most times a project is “identified” already and you are the one to get it done.  The thing is, there are multiple solutions for most situations:  Automation vs. Manual, New vs. Used, Higher Investment/Lower Operation Cost vs. Lower Investment/Higher Operation Cost.

These are all choices.  Scope your project on all of these fronts for feasibility and impact.  Present the options to the stakeholder and help him choose the solution that is right for him.  Remember that the solution and the budget are closely related.  Provide valuable options that are at different investment levels, however, make sure they all satisfy the objective of the project.

The Method & Timeline

Method is the HOW for executing the project.  You already have the WHAT sewn up with the choices you provided for the solution.  Now, with the different solutions, you can have different methods.  These choices can range from installation methods, equipment options, operation needs, interviews, surveys, process flow maps, value-stream mapping, and many other buzzwords, catch-phrases, and tools that proliferate in the Project Management arena.  Pick different options that, again, provide value to the stakeholder.  Method and timeline are directly related and usually the longer the time investment the more thoroughly the solution will be implemented and sustained after the project is completed without your intervention.

Be careful here.  It can be easy to find yourself providing a method option that is going to tie you to the project for a long time.  Understand your time commitment and budget and provide options that fit within your requirements.  Also, be cautious about being pulled back into the project after it is completed because it drifts backwards.  This is usually because you provided an option that was too short on time and the project was not adopted readily, requiring your intervention later.  Make sure the stakeholder knows when you are parting ways with the project and understand that support will be limited afterwards.  People will not own something if they can rely on the Project Leader as a crutch.

The Team & Your Abilities

These options start with a clear assessment of what you bring to the table.  Understand your time availability, your technical capabilities, and the level of intimacy you have with the project topic.  Create options around how you will support your weaknesses (and it is okay to have weaknesses on a project and still be the Project Manager) with other people and create potential teams with suggestions.  Make sure that all of these teams satisfy your requirements for time and talent, but still give options on who is on the team and the time they will need to invest to the project.

How Many?

Three is always a good number.  I think that is why the Baby Bear in Goldilocks didn’t have any siblings.  You will find that with a number like three, the process of elimination takes over and you will have an option that is too hot, too cold and another that is just right.  Sometimes you can’t make it to three, that is okay, work with what you have.  Other times, you may need to present more options.  Understand your audience and the project complexity.

Don’t provide too many choices.  People get bogged down when they have too many options to consider.  Use yourself as a guide.  If you would be willing to sit and read all of the options and weigh them against one another, chances are that your stakeholder will as well.

When Teams Become Dangerous

hawksTeamwork.  Often we have the need and desire to improve team relationships.  We have been told that we need to work well with teams.  We, as managers, must promote a team environment.  Leadership training focuses on working as a team.  If teams are so great, and we have teams everywhere (how many “teams” are you a member of?) then why do we still have issues creeping up on us?  Why do we still have to play politics?

There is no “I” in “team”: yeah, right.
In today’s culture we are celebrating individuality and simultaneously asking our teams to let it go.  I don’t think we will ever be able to suppress the individual to a point that teamwork will be natural.  People often work in teams because it benefits the individual.  This has been showcased in modern Reality TV where people will work in teams until it is time to ‘win’.  Additionally, this is also demonstrated in game theory analysis.  The concept is flawed because it comes from an idealistic premise that human beings can let go of their individuality. 

Emotional Teams
Overall, mankind is selfish unless we are touched emotionally by something.  People work very well in teams when there is a crisis.  We all tend to fall into an order of sorts and try to contribute in the best way we can.   However, these are short-lived teams that band together when the time calls for action and then disperse quickly when the job is done. Teamwork comes easy when we believe in something greater than ourselves.  Volunteer groups, emergency response teams, and first responders work together very well during the time they are needed but will resort to selfish measures when the emotions no longer dictate the behavior.  But it is hard to convince an employee that making Product A the most efficiently with the best quality is a noble cause.  Most people are not emotionally tied to their jobs.

The Opposition Within
When we create teams we often create competition: shift rivalries, departmental performance.  But competition is good, right?  Have you ever been in a meeting where two department managers are arguing about who will pay for something?  There is an agreement (stated or implied) that a service or good is needed but it is being argued about who’s budget will take the hit. As managers we should know that if one of us is going to buy something that it is for the betterment of the organization.  So who cares who pays? This is a common example of teamwork gone awry.  Are we not measured on how well we manage our budget?  This is an individual goal that trumps the business need.  It is a selfish endeavor to manage your budget over doing what is right for the company.  We have created turf wars in modern business.  We have pushed ownership to the point of possessiveness.  We sit in meetings and argue over jobs.  We are back on the playground, staking claim on the jungle gym. Some might argue that this is not teamwork, but I say it is.  It is teamwork as we have defined it over the years. 

Redefining Teams
The team should be defined as “the smallest group possible whose goals do not conflict with the goals of any other group.”  The key to this definition is the set of goals.  This is all about creating the right KPIs.  Coupling personal objectives with team objectives is the only way to create a win-win mentality.  This doesn’t mean that the other KPIs shouldn’t be measured.  They should, they are topographical maps of the company.  They show the peaks and valleys and allow the team to work together to achieve a common goal. 

Sustaining Gains

  1. Start from the top down when setting metrics and goals. 
  2. Personal goals should correspond to team goals.  The only personal goals that are outside of those team goals would be development goals for the individual (i.e. implement supervisor conflict management training before October 2nd). 
  3. If you can’t create a KPI for a group that doesn’t conflict with the KPI of a peer group, you need to think more critically or simply hold to the higher-level KPI. 
  4. Share successes of the team with the whole organization whenever possible.  This will help to build camaraderie and will motivate teams to help one another on achieving their collective goals. 
  5. Flex your KPIs to shift your business needs and create renewed focus in primary improvement areas. 
  6. Solicit the feedback of everyone to see where people can affect the KPI and if it is reasonable to set as a goal.

Remember, a few good metrics is better than a huge list.  I have seen companies with an entire matrix of Red/Yellow/Green scorecards that people simply can’t keep up with.  Keep your team focused and good things will happen.  Manage the extremes by exception and great solid game plans with your teams to see step change improvements.

How have you seen teams become destructive?

What are you doing to ensure that your teams are collaborative and not competative?