Monday, May 27, 2013

An Emmy-Winning Norm

The sitcom Cheers was a mainstay on television sets across America in the 1980’s.  In every episode, a regular occurrence took place.  Norm Peterson, a mainstay of the bar, Cheers, would enter the front door.  Upon his regular entrance, Norm would say, “Evening, everybody”.  The bar would yell, “Norm!!!”.  One of the main characters would ask Norm a question and Norm would reply with a hilarious one-liner response.
The recipe was genius.  Every viewer was hooked, and they expected this norm each time they watched the show.  It was simple, yet powerful.  Norm’s entrance was not powerful because it rarely occurred.  It was powerful because his grand entrance occurred every time without fail, with timely precision and with epic comedic appeal.
Teams need the same type of routine.  They need regularity in coming together, collaborating together and committing to one another.  According to Rick DuFour, a team consists of a group of people who work interdependently to achieve a common goal for which they are mutually accountable.  If a group of people wish to be a team, they must be committed to a goal that every member plays an integral part in achieving.  Furthermore, the members of the team must be committed to contribute toward the goal as well as depend on one another to improve personally.  Teammates must have guidelines to work together, support one another, and confront behaviors that prevent progress toward outcomes that they agreed to work toward.
In order for a group to become a team, teams must collectively create guidelines as known as norms.  With each member contributing their ideas of how to work together, norms should define how the team will come together, have a purpose for meeting and leave with a useful product for each member to implement in their classroom.
When teams are creating norms, they should ensure that the following criteria are addressed:


  • What are the agreed upon times that the team will start and end the meeting?
  • How will the team make certain that time is maximized and not wasted?
  • How will members address others who waste team time?


  • What is the primary purpose for the team coming together?
  • What issues will the team discuss during the allotted meeting time?
  • How will members prevent off-topic issues from deterring the team away from its purpose?
  • How will members confront others who prevent the team from collaborating about the purpose?


  • What common product will all members walk away with from the meeting?
  • What will members bring with them to the meeting to contribute to the creation of the common product?
  • How will members confront others who fail to contribute to the common product?


  • What are interruptions that cannot be allowed in the collaborative meetings?
  • How will team members prevent or stop unexpected interruptions from disrupting the meeting so the team can stay on-task?
  • How will members confront other members and outside guests who interrupt the meeting?


  • How will members of the team address disagreements or differences of opinion while maintaining the positive culture of the team?
  • When conflict arises between members of the team, how will the other members work together to help resolve the conflict?
  • When conflict cannot be resolved, how will the team seek support from campus leaders?

Focus on Kids

  • How will members keep the focus of the collaborative meeting on the needs of all students?
  • When the discussion focuses more on the staff ‘s needs than the needs of the kids, how will the team address this issue?


  • When the team accomplishes a goal, how will they celebrate?
  • When an individual member has a success, how will the team celebrate their individual success?
  • When and how often will the team celebrate regularly?
Teams that plan together stay together, but teams that celebrate together, accelerate together. Just like in the show, Cheers, teams must have all the ingredients for collaboration and serve them on a regular basis.  If your team can commit to the norms that they can create, your team will be destined for an Emmy-winning performance.

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