What is The Rocket Model™?

The Rocket Model™ is a framework and set of tools for boosting team performance. It can be used to diagnose team dynamics, and to provide leaders with specific tools and activities to improve team performance. 

It was created in response to questions and requests from actual managers working in organizations all over the world – managers struggling to transform their people into effective teams. 


eight critical questions every team must answer

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1. context: What are our critical assumptions?

Team formation gets off to a good start when team members share a common view of the context in which they’re operating.

In fact, we find that putting shared language around context is more essential as a first step than defining the team’s mission.

All too often, it turns out that team members
are operating from different assumptions. That fundamental disconnect leads to well-intended but misaligned actions that hurt team morale and reduce effectiveness. 


2. mission: Why are we here?

When team members agree on what success looks like, they set the stage for effectiveness. What will it mean to win? What are the goals, when do they need to be accomplished, what strategies will the team use, and how will progress be measured?

Answering these questions leads to goal clarity, which strengthens mission clarity and is essential to boosting TQ. 


3. Talent: do we have the talent we need?

It seems like it should be easy to get the right number of people with the right talents on
a team. In fact, we find it can be one of the toughest aspects of building TQ.

That’s because most organizations assign staff members to a team based more on availability or politics than talent. The team leader may believe that the skills, experience, and abilities of individual team members are all that matters, but there are other talent considerations. 


4. Norms: What are the rules?

It’s human nature for any group to develop norms for greeting, meeting, seating, communicating, deciding, and executing. These unwritten rules usually solidify fast, without any formal discussion.

However, teams that take the time to talk through and consciously establish norms leverage a powerful tool for achieving team cohesiveness and performance. 


5. buy-in: are we all committed to success?

Buy-in happens when team members have a team-first, not a me-first, attitude. High-performance teams are committed to team goals, roles, and rules, and they’re motivated to get necessary, day-to-day tasks done.

They understand how their work contributes to the greater good, and they’re optimistic about their chances of success. 

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6. resources: do we have the resources needed?

Early on, teams need to figure out what resources are necessary for meeting their goals, and leaders may have to lobby key stakeholders to get those needs met.

Tangible resources may include a realistic budget, office space, hardware and software systems, specialized equipment, and tech support. Intangibles may include political support and authority to make decisions. 


7. morale: how do we work through disagreements?

The best teams understand that managing conflict is not the same as minimizing conflict. The team members cultivate the necessary courage to raise difficult issues, while developing effective ways to work through disagreements and find solutions.

They know that too little conflict, with problems swept under the rug, leads to artificial harmony and groupthink. Too much conflict leads to chaos and backstabbing. 


8. results: are we achieving our goals?

High-TQ teams keep their eye on the prize. They measure results against mission, regularly track progress, learn from successes and failures, and devise ways to continue improving delivery. They understand it’s critical to align goals with important organizational outcomes and benchmark progress in a way that leads to superior performance.

Achieving results depends on how well the team handles the previous seven steps in the framework. In other words, members must share assumptions about context, agree on mission and work towards goals, have clearly defined roles and skills, ensure buy-in, adhere to norms, access necessary resources, and manage conflict effectively. When the team falters at one of these steps, outcomes are affected.

By practicing what works, the team continues to strengthen morale and succeed.