Work Teams Concepts and Skills

In July 2005, I took an excellent class at UCSD called Work Teams Concepts and Skills.  It was one of my required classes for my project management certification.  I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but was surprised to find it very informative and applicable to many aspects of life.

In preparation for a move in a few months, I was about to throw out my notes, so I decided to copy them here for future reference before tossing them.  This is one of those posts that will be more useful for me than it will be for you, I suspect.


  • Characterizations are a form of assessment that you place on other people.  They ascribe a property to a person, like “John can’t manage a project”.  We hold these as unchangeable facts and we listen to others through our characterizations.  It can be very hard to strip these away.
  • The skills that got you the promotion are not the skills you’ll need in your new role/job.
  • Assertions are stated facts without evidence.  These will cause you to lose trust.  When you treat assessments as facts, you are viewed as opinionated and not open to new ideas.  When you make assessments without grounding them, you are seen as a windbag, someone who has an opinion about everything.
  • Transparent judgments are equivalent to invisible judgments.  You don’t have transparent judgments, they have you.  They drive your life and you have no choice in the matter.
  • Who has authority to judge you?  You need to give authority to the people you trust to make assessments about you in the domains you are concerned about.
  • An assessment is based on past events, made in the present, which shape the future.  A declaration is a stand taken in the present that shapes the future, with no historical background.
  • With a declaration, the world follows the word.  It immediately changes the future and creates a new reality.  The declaration can be valid or invalid depending on the authority of the speaker.  You create life with your declarations.
  • Expressives are a psychological state, an expression of feelings or emotions.  Interpretations can be disguised as feelings, but they shouldn’t interfere with them.  Whether I feel this or that is not subject to interpretation.
  • Conversation for Action – a request or promise or offer.  Nothing happens until a request is made.  Once the request is made, the world is changed.  There are new possibilities.  Hold people accountable for requests that aren’t made – this is a breakdown in the preparation phase.
  • A request will solve a current problem, once fulfilled.  You need to understand the context behind the request.  This opens up alternatives and opportunities.  Requests bring about action: I request [what] by [when].  A request can never be specified 100%.  There is some shared background or understanding that lets you make the request with less than 100% information.  In evaluating a request, passive resistance is not acceptable, such as not responding to the person making the request.
  • People must have the ability to say no.
  • Only the customer can declare satisfaction.
  • When promises are broken, morale decreases and people are no longer motivated to keep their own promises.  An offer is a conditional promise.
  • Anger: You hold me responsible for failed activities and projects when I don’t have the capabilities to change the core problems.  I’m held accountable for problems that I’ve inherited and you don’t listen to my problems.
  • Fear: I fear that you will view my performance as unacceptable because we are unable to deliver to our customers.
  • Resolution/Resolve: I know this better than anyone at the company and I resolve to make things better for myself and my team and meet all customer expectations.
  • Confidence: I know what needs to be done and I have been through more difficult times in the past.

Something About Myself That I Don’t Understand

In 1996, I took a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong.  I had a window seat on a United 747.  For the bums in coach (including me), the seat configuration was 3-4-3.  There was someone in the aisle seat but no one between us.

The flight time was probably a bit longer than 14 hours.

I remember almost nothing about that flight except for this: I got out of that seat only twice, and both times only after my aisle companion got up first.

How in the hell did I survive a 14 hour flight with only two trips to stretch my legs and hit the lav?  Today the thought of a five hour cross country trip makes me curl into the fetal position and whimper.  I’m chalking it up to either a trance-like state or a complete lack of food and beverage 24 hours prior to the flight.