Episode #082: The TDS Survey: 6 Conditions of Team Effectiveness with Dr. Ruth Wageman, Pauline Willis & Dr. Krister Lowe

Podcast on the TDS Survey 6 Conditions of Team Effectivness

What are the most powerful factors that predict team effectiveness? How much do the designing, launching and coaching phases influence team effectiveness?  Tune in to this week’s episode of the Team Coaching Zone Podcast for a round table conversation with Dr Ruth Wageman, Pauline Willis and Dr. Krister Lowe to explore how the TDS Survey and the 6 Conditions of Team Effectiveness answer these and other important topics facing teams in today’s organizations.  Dr. Ruth Wageman is a thought leader and practitioner in the area of teams and team effectiveness, the author of Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes To Make Them Great and one of the Creators of the Team Diagnostic Survey along with Dr. Richard Hackman.  Pauline Willis is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, coach-mentor and thought leader in executive and team coaching with Lauriate, Ltd and the Coaching and Mentoring Network. Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist, an executive and team coach and the Founder of the Team Coaching Zone, LLC.

In this episode of the podcast, show guests share their journey and mission to bring the TDS Survey and the 6 Conditions of Team Effectiveness to the marketplace in order to increase team effectiveness in organizations and communities  Themes covered in this episode include:

  • Origins of the TDS survey and framework
  • The 6 Conditions of Team Effectiveness: 3 Essentials (Real Team, Compelling Purpose, Right People) & 3 Enablers (Sound Structure, Supportive Organizational Context, Team Coaching)
  • Chronology and sequencing of the 6 conditions
  • 3 Key Task Processes: Effort, Strategy, Knowledge & Skill
  • 3 Team Effectiveness Outcomes: Task Performance, Group Process, Member Satisfaction
  • How the TDS helps predict up to 80% of a team’s effectiveness
  • The 60-30-10 rule of team intervention: Designing, Launching and Coaching phases of teams
  • Abundance of poorly designed teams
  • Upcoming launch of the the Team Diagnostic Survey
  • Stories/Applications using the TDS Survey with real-world teams: with team leaders: the team leader as team coach; leadership teams that struggle with purpose and being a real team; the limits of training teams in soft skills and using personality assessments to increase performance; using personality assessments with team diagnostics in teams; teams vs. teaming; lessons applying the TDS when working with rapid teams; team of teams – using the TDS with multiple teams within an organization as well as partnering across organizations in an industry (e.g. healthcare); critical teams and change teams; reinventing organizations through transforming teams; supervision of team coaches; collaborative leadership teams; self-governing teams and more

This episode is essential listening for all team coaches who are seeking to understand the most powerful levers that drive team effectiveness as well as a measurement instrument that can help teams create the conditions for success. Tune in today and take your team coaching practice to the next level!

Listen Now


Resources Mentioned

  1. TCZ episodes with Trexler Proffitt (#47) & Ruth Wageman (#39)
  2. Team Diagnostic Survey: www.TeamDiagnosticSurvey.com
  3. Upcoming TCZ Co-sponsored TDS Certification Workshop: http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/team-diagnostic-survey/
  4. Wageman, R., Nunes, D. A., Burruss, J. A., & Hackman, J. R. (2007). Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great (Canadian ed edition). Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press.
  5. Hackman, R.J. & Wageman, R. (2005). A Theory of Team Coaching. The Academy of Management Review. 30(2), 269-287.
  6. Hackman, J.R. (2002). Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances.
  7. Hackman, J.R. (2011). Collaborative Teams: Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems.

Listen to the Podcast






Part 1 – Getting to know the Show Guests: Dr. Ruth Wageman & Pauline Willis

Ruth Wageman

  • Dr. Wageman is a returning TCZ interviewee (check out episode #39)
  • Has worked the past 30 years as an academic scholar studying teams & developing teams in practice
  • Past 12 years has been focused on leadership teams. Author of book: Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great
  • Past 6 years has been focused on leadership teams coming together across organizations to work on solving complex societal problems
  • Primary author on TDS Survey with Richard Hackman and Erin Lehman
  • Author of article: Theory of Team Coaching (2005) with Richard Hackman

Pauline Willis

  • Began working with teams as a Continuous Quality Improvement Facilitator & Coach in Healthcare Organisations
  • Became an Organizational Psychologist, is now also a Coaching Psychologist
  • Born in Oxford UK and emigrated to Australia as a child migrant in 1975.
  • Studied Organisational Psychology at the University of Western Australia.
  • Works internationally with clients Australia, UK, Europe, UAE & the US
  • Discovered TDS Survey in 2005, then connected and collaborated with Richard Hackman
  • Is a founding executive board member of the EMCC
  • Past chair of the BPS Special Group in Coaching Psychology
  • Currently WA State Chair of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists.

Part 2 – Team Diagnostic Survey (TDS)


  • Focuses on the 6 conditions that most influence team effectiveness. Authors have tested the best available versions of measures of these conditions, then developed a standardized survey of the most predictive variables
  • TDS Survey is available online, for scholars and practitioners- thousands of teams that have used the survey worldwide
  • TDS Survey is rigorously validated:  6 conditions predict 80% of variance of team effectiveness
  • 6 conditions: 3 essentials (real team, right people, compelling purpose) + 3 enablers (sound structure, supportive context, team coaching)
  • 6 conditions effect 3 key task processes (effort, strategy, knowledge & skill) which produce 3 team effectiveness outcomes (task performance, member satisfaction, quality of group process)
  • 60/30/10 rule: 60% of the acts of leadership occur before team exists (pre-work) / 30% occur in the first few minutes of the group (breathing life into these conditions) / 10% ongoing coaching and consultation
  • Richard’s book Collaborative Intelligence: Using Teams to Solve Hard Problems
  • Ruth recommends a re-launch for teams that are already formed without the essentials in order to get the 6 conditions in place before proceeding with work
  • The golden opportunity that the design phase presents for creating the conditions for high performance
  • Insights on the ongoing coaching of teams: the interaction between well design teams with team coaching vs. coaching poorly designed teams
  • Team coaching as the real time intervention in the team’s process not the broader definition which also can include designing and launching teams

Applications of the TDS Survey

  • Pauline finds the TDS most useful to understand the team before even intervening. A map of where the issues are for a diagnosis of where to start, which informs coaching intervention
  • Team leader as team coach – Using the TDS to train a team leader in how to lead their own team
  • TDS is used as objective data from the organization and team members
  • Krister used TDS recently with 2 leadership teams who didn’t know why they needed to be a team. He used the TDS to determine team purpose by perspective taking (using a chair technique to imagine why they thought each stakeholder believed they needed to be a team).
  • Ruth says that getting clarity of purpose of leadership teams is a common challenge. She use TDS to externalize the data and motivates the team to collaborate.
  • Pauline uses personality assessments and the TDS in the coaching process, but uses the TDS as a starting point. Data of individual differences compared against team data is helpful.
  • The conditions create a context for performance. Ruth says that organizations create obstacles for teams to have the 6 conditions. However, when teams come together, the TDS can be used for fast forming collaborations.
  • Krister is exploring how the TDS can be used for “team of teams”, working with multiple teams in an organization simultaneously.
  • Ruth uses TDS with a handful of teams that are most critical in an organization, to look in detail on the 6 conditions of each team and to combines data across teams to explore tendencies of how well the organization is teaming in general.
  • Pauline focuses on a team as a unit of change, then expands outwards to the organization.
  • Teams are the fundamental unit of where work gets done. Teams are easier to change than an organization, but have much influence over the whole system

Part 3 – Closing / Parting Advice / Words of Wisdom

Teaming Trends

  • Many teams and organizations are not deliberately designed, grow in an ad hoc way. If we can get the fundamental design of change teams right, this team can influence other teams, to reinvent a system that isn’t working.
  • Other trends include –support of team supervision, need to develop collaborative leadership, forming of self-governing groups, learning teams, online collaboration platforms

Pauline, Krister, and Ruth’s Collaboration

  • Pauline, Ruth & Krister are launching an online certification and classroom based workshops for the TDS
  • Next workshop in Boston, October 5 & 6. More info here
  • Ruth: excited to share TDS with more people in the world
  • Pauline: excited to engage this with the coaching community for team coaching

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