Blog 6. Unproductive Teams


A new team often wonders how it should proceed. Longstanding teams can lose focus or sense of purpose.

A simple technique gets the team to inspire itself to high performance. Once a facilitator from outside the team gains the team’s respect and trust, the facilitator asks about the team about the importance of what they are doing. The facilitator lists answers so everyone can see.

When the team feels complete, the facilitator makes a fresh list and goes through the first list item by item, asking its importance. At the end, the team will state their purpose or the facilitator will express a sense that they are saying/meaning/suggesting X.

The team feels revitalized, wanting to give high performance. Because they feel they inspired themselves the facilitator doesn’t need to return.

For example, the government cut back re-imbursement to a nonprofit, Abilities United in Palo Alto, CA. The managers of its service departments and programs, largely trained in social work and education, needed to explore new approaches.

We used the iterative questions as above. By the end of an hour, the managers inspired themselves to make plans for fee-for-service activities for each program. Abilities United soon improved its financial stability.

I was twice assigned to help failing Toastmasters clubs. Once we had mutual rapport and trust, each club spent an hour working with the iterative technique. Each club inspired itself. They succeeded. I never had to come back. To this day each club continues to flourish.

On the other hand, my wife and I mentored a new club. What we did worked, but we had not yet learned the importance of motivating–to-inspire and didn’t suggest it. The club faded away a year later.

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of 

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or for more information or to start a conversation.

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401-2238


Blog 5C. Emotional Situations



This continues the examples presented in Blogs 5A and 5B.

A hospital where I practiced needed careful, rapid decisions about caring for dying patients. Families didn’t know what to do and were scared. Most doctors didn’t know how to handle care when a patient was certain to die.

The hospital started an ethics committee. Three doctors rotated month by month to chair its consultation team. A senior nurse, a therapist, and a dietician rotated on the team as did three business men, from outside the hospital, interested in ethics.

A family agreed it was best to let mother die peacefully. A son arrived late at night from the other coast. Because he’d not seen mother for decades, he felt painfully guilty.

“Do everything you can to keep mother alive!” he insisted.

A senior nurse and a business man joined me on the ward with the son and the local family, and two senior nurses from the ward.

Our team’s nurse and its business man acknowledged the son’s wish to talk to mother, his guilt about not having seen her for decades, and praised his coming so far.

The medical evidence showed mother would never wake up or speak. We all told the son mother could probably feel him hold her hand and feel the emotion in his voice. He should tell her he loved her. Now he agreed with the rest of the family: keep mother comfortable, let her die peacefully, no more tests, no breathing machine.

I called mother’s doctor. He was never trained to deal with dying patients. He listened, asked me good questions, and followed our recommendations.

Illustrations in my blogs are either my own drawings or courtesy of

Contact me at 650-762-6755 or for more information or to start a conversation.

Pieter Kark, MD, San Mateo, CA 94401

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Pieter Kark, MD
Owner at Business Team Solutions: Turn Your Pain into Gain.

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