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Human Resources talks exclusively with Stefano Mastrogiacomo, author and founder of Team Alignment Co, who draws on real-world examples to reveal how collaborative leadership can lead to vastly better outcomes for teams.

What advice would you give to HR professionals to help them build their own robust, high-functioning team?

Train people in collaborative leadership. When I’m working with clients – especially large organisations – I’m always struck by the practices that take place today that are inherited from the past that do not suit our complex times.

Let me give you an example. Geneva University Hospital used a team alignment map to become a Covid centre in five days (at the start of the pandemic). We’re talking about 11,000 employees, 2000 beds – this is the biggest hospital in Switzerland.

The chief of operations at the hospital said that they had to go beyond the standard procedures. We have to be more innovative in the way we collaborate to change that big machine in just five days. We agreed that we had to proceed differently.

So they experienced a new way to work together, visually, and not be bogged down by a business plan, a strategic plan – we just sat together to find the solution using these new canvasses and tools.

She said that we needed these visual tools that guide the conversation and enable the project. So from the view of a HR professional, I would empower my people by providing these skills – to become a great visual facilitator by using these canvasses for teamwork.

 You might have great talents in the room, but if the conversation goes around in circles it becomes too complex for us to manage. A visual element can help overcome this. If you want to benefit from that collective power, put something on the wall.

Can you elaborate a little on the book you co-authored with Alex Osterwalder, High-Impact Tools for Teams?

From experience, I have realised that everyday interactions, in-the-moment discussions, the importance of communication can be treated implicitly.

Based on experience in a project situation, team success does not happen overnight – it’s based on a series of small interactions. So if our conversation is successful, and the next conversation, and the next one, then eventually our team and our project will be successful.

There are things we can do in the way of collaborative leadership in the small interactions of everyday teamwork. So we have developed team and conversational tools that help every team member become a more successful contributor – and also help other team members become more successful. That’s the idea behind the book.

These tools create alignment – put us on the same page – and they help create a safer team climate and build trust. And also manage conflict more constructively. The book contains five tools to achieve this.

hitt cover

In your book, at first I thought it was about L&D, but I see it’s also about talent management and leadership. What do you think a HR professional could learn from these strategies?


It’s a toolbox I can share with my talents, so that they enable collaborative leadership. We are in a complex world. The best manager in the world is not one person – it’s a shared responsibility now. Peter Drucker says, “You cannot manage knowledge workers, you can only help them.”

So you should empower everybody so that leadership becomes a share responsibility.

Your book is beautifully illustrated. I love, in particular, the pair of images (pictured below) of the “top notch” team at the starting gun, and in the second image they are a scrambled mess. What went wrong?

It’s the whole point of the book. A team can be individually great but fail miserably. It’s not a question of individual skills, it’s a question of the way we collaborate. So Collaboration tools are needed so we need to be aware of what happens in the small interactions.

The basic building block is the meeting. And the difference between the first picture and the second picture is really what happens in meetings. Statistics by an Australian software company reported that 50% of meetings are a pure waste of time.

You might have great talents in the room, but if the conversation goes around in circles it becomes too complex for us to manage. A visual element can help overcome this. If you want to benefit from that collective power, put something on the wall.
starting gun