03.2012 - Team Charters

Chartering -- a methodical sequence of facilitated conversations -- can help groups (teams, coalitions, Boards) achieve clarity on mission and process.  A unifying charter serves as a touchstone and guiding post -- a deep well of wisdom and common ground that carves a pathway to success. 

Charters can be particularly valuable when bringing together individuals who have not previously worked together or individuals who are about to embark on a transformational mission.


While chartering doesn’t eliminate "storming," which can result from "fault-lines," frustration, anxiety, disagreement, confusion, it can mediate it by clarifying such dimensions as how disagreements will be handled.


While chartering is most often used with mid-level cross-functional teams, tops also benefit from a chartering conversation that looks at maximizing external networking and knowledge, and ensuring success up, down, and across organizational lines. 


focus on clear agreement on foundational dimensions of group life, including:

  • Transparent Mission:  Leadership’s vision for the group's purpose and major goal posts – how the project fits within the broader organizational goals.
  • Aspirations:  Members’ aspirations for how the work will be conducted including personal styles and preferences (communication, scheduling, etc.)
  • What We Stand For:   What the group stands for in terms of its communication and leadership – what it wants to represent to the organization and the world.
  • Work Process, including: ground rules, structure, resources, priority level, how disagreements will be settled and tending to relationships.

The purpose of an organization is to make the strengths of people productive and their weaknesses irrelevant.

  -- Peter Drucker --

Chartering can result in a laser focus on amplifying results through group agreement on how to maximize the group's collective strengths.

"Faultines" in teams.  See Lynda Gratton, Voigt, A. and Erickson T.J. (2007) "Bridging Faultlines in Diverse Teams", MIT Sloan Management Review.

Typical Chartering Benefits:

For Individuals:

  • Feel increased affinity for the mission and each other.
  • Understand clearly the project scope and their responsibility to each other and the organization.
  • Develop team leadership know-how.

For Groups:

  • Increase their energy, momentum and capability toward achieving the team’s goal.

For the organization:

  • Increased bench strength, success track record and leadership development.