Current State and Desired State

Published: May 16, 2017

Every relationship, team, and organization can become more effective. Few, however, are ready to take on the burden of evolving. Living, breathing ecosystems are always in a temporary stage of development. Teams, therefore, are constantly faced with a choice about attending to or ignoring the symptoms indicating the need to adapt. Most opt for the comfort and consequences of staying the same. Consider these six motives for embracing the discomfort of growth and moving your team forward:

Current State: Our team is new.

Desired State: Rules, roles, and boundaries haven’t yet been established. Moving forward begins with building infrastructure. Clarify norms, expectations, mission, values, and goals.

Current State: Our team is in conflict.

Desired State: Set some ground rules for airing differences respectfully and professionally. Conflicting perspectives, in time, become fuel for innovation.

Current State: Our team isn’t held accountable.

Desired State: Both integrity and performance are dependent on every teammate holding themselves and each other accountable for behaving the organization’s mission, modeling its values, and sharing in the achievement of its vision.

Current State: Our team is not bonded by trust.

Desired State: Unless and until every teammate can be vulnerable, there will be a limit to the team’s ability to take risks. A safe environment supplies the nutrients for creativity and connection.

Current State: Our team lacks the time and resources to explore and experiment.

Desired State: Necessity is the mother of invention. The pinch of limits is often the spark that ignites new ideas. Rather than ramping up capacity, find a way to simplify complexity.

Current State: Our team has experienced significant change.

Desired State: Devote time to appropriately mourn what has been lost. Look back, say goodbye, and refocus on the challenges ahead. Embracing new circumstances replenishes energy when a team is depleted from constant change.

Which one of these reflects your team? Now or later, your team will face these challenges. Each one represents a necessary stage of development in the life cycle of any group. The trap is getting stuck when the discomfort of growth makes adapting difficult. The solution is to diagnose your current state, define your desired state, and keep moving.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.