Stefano Mastrogiacomo, High-Impact Tools for Teams – InnovaBuzz 392

Stefano Mastrogiacomo

Stefano Mastrogiacomo, The Team Alignment Co.

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Stefano Mastrogiacomo, a team tools designer, a project management consultant and professor. He has a passion for human coordination and he’s the designer of the Team Alignment Map, the Team Contract, the Fact Finder, and the other tools presented in the book, High-Impact Tools for Teams.

Stefano has been leading digital projects and advising project teams in international organizations for more than 20 years while teaching and doing research at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His interdisciplinary work is anchored in project management, change management, psycholinguistics, evolutionary anthropology, and design thinking.

In our discussion, Stefano talked to me about:

  • How to use his Team Alignment Map for vision alignment, planning, project management, distributed team coordination, and effective team meetings
  • The psycho-linguistics and human behaviour reasons why these tools work and how to best use them
  • “We emerge from the small” – the cell metaphor

Alex Osterwalder in episode 293 introduced us to Stefano.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Conversation is the most effective technology in the world for creating common ground between humans. @SMastrog on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

Show Notes from this episode with Stefano Mastrogiacomo of The Team Alignment Co.

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Coordination is the harmonious functioning of individual parts.
  • Psycholinguistics is a branch of linguistics that analyzes how we use language to do things in a certain context.
  • Human coordination is based on the use of language. Communication is the device we use to coordinate as humans.
  • Communication has Latin roots that mean “to put in common.” It is all about creating a “common ground” or a mutual understanding. 
  • When there is a mutual understanding between team members, you can start predicting how the labour is to be divided amongst the team members. 
  • Coordination in psycholinguistics is viewed as a series of linguistic mechanisms to solve problems. 
  • The Fact Finder Tool is a tool that helps in asking really good questions.
  • Until you have evidence that somebody understands you, you won’t be able to coordinate effectively.
  • The Team Alignment Map (TAM) creates superfast instant alignment on key elements that enable teams to work together in the future.
    • Overall Challenge/Mission – is what gives meaning to the team’s presence. Start with a brief description of the mission.
    • Joint Objective – what the team intends to achieve together. Describe your intentions at a very high-level.
    • Joint Commitments – negotiation of tasks, who is doing what for whom?
    • Resources – identify and discuss the resources that the team needs that are available and not available.  
    • Risks – identify and discuss unexpected events that could prevent the team from succeeding.
  • A great KPI for risks is to listen to your internal fears.
  • Make sure that everyone on the team is on the same page before leaving the Team Alignment Map session. Create conditions for every team member to contribute in the most effective way possible to the success of the project.
  • Conversation is the most effective technology in the world for creating common ground between humans.
  • Co-plan and co-validate in order to understand where your team’s collective power and accountability come from.
  • The Fact Finder is a tool that is rooted in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), which is a great body of knowledge on how to ask really good questions. 
  • A really good question is one that reduces perception gaps and helps people stay anchored in reality.
  • The Fact Finder Tool helps you re-center the focus of a conversation in a very diplomatic and effective way. 
  • The Fact Finder Tool is a behavioural tool for psychological safety. It helps team members become more effective in asking good questions.
  • First Order Reality is anything that we can measure with our 5 senses. It is what is usually described as facts. Second Order Reality is all the other interpretations, judgement, and hypotheses that we infer from the things we have seen in the First Order Reality. In order to engage collectively and more effectively, make sure that everyone on the team is on the same reality.
  • You increase the level of clarity in which you express yourself and become more effective in helping others understand you when you are in the first order of reality. 
  • The Nonviolent Request Tool helps team members manage conflict more effectively. It provides a way of expressing one’s feelings and expectations in an empathetic way. 
  • Anger is an expression of an unmet need. 
  • Psychological safety and trust are huge requirements for teams to be effective. Both have a huge impact on the quality of work, the atmosphere of the team, and the ability to innovate. 
  • Every success, as well as failure, emerges from “the small”. Our body is made up of cells. We emerge from “the small”, and so do all the beautiful things in business.
  • High-Impact Tools for Teams are DNA level tools that work at the interaction level to improve mutual understanding and trust amongst team members.
  • We have to bring the human part of working together. 
  • It’s not sufficient to say that a leader must be a great communicator. Communication is just one process amongst procurement or marketing that enables all others. 
  • Clarity has a direct impact on team efficiency and less execution problems.
  • Psychological safety has a huge impact on innovation. Withholding information for fear of the consequences, does not enable the flow of collective learning, intelligence, problem-solving, and innovation.
  • “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance.” – Peter Drucker
Psychological safety and trust are huge requirements for teams to be effective. Both have a huge impact on the quality of work, the atmosphere of the team, and the ability to innovate. @SMastrog on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Stefano’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Perseverance.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Go out there and test it, then repeat.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Strategyzer tools – Value Proposition Canvass and The Retrospective.
  4. Keep project/client on track – High-Impact Tools – mutual clarity and alignment
  5. Differentiate – Follow your passion. It’s very difficult to compete with a passionate person.

To Be a Leader

Make use of the High-Impact Tools for teams in order to have better interactions at work and more successful projects.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Stefano through their website

Suggested Guest

Stefano suggested we have a conversation with Amy Edmondson, author of The Fearless Organisation and Big Team Training for Audacious Innovation. So Amy, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Stefano Mastrogiacomo.



Cool Things About Stefano

  • He holds a Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree, and Ph.D. in Organisation and Business Information Systems, from the University of Lausanne
  • He’s been trained in coaching and brief therapy techniques by the French psychologist Françoise Kourilsky, and in visual facilitation/design thinking by Dave Gray, the founder of XPLANE.
  • He speaks English, French, Italian, and Spanish.
Every success as well as failure emerges from "the small". Our body is made up of cells. We emerge from "the small", and so do all the beautiful things in business. @SMastrog on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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