Chartering High Performance Teams through the “24/7 Lecture”

Chartering High Performance Teams seen thru the eyes of VrajChartering high-performance teams is no easy thing. Teams often struggle to establish a strong collective identity and build a starter set of working agreements. As a facilitator, I’ve found that helping folks clearly define their “Why, What, and Who” is foundational for building high-performing, cohesive teams.

A recent Facebook prompt, “On this day x years ago1” reminded me of a technique that I borrowed from the Ig Nobel Awards hosted by Improbable Research – the “24/7 Lecture”.

In this approach, team members work collaboratively to figure out how to articulate their purpose, responsibilities, and target audience succinctly – first in a technical 24-second explanation, then distilled down to a clear 7-word summary.

By going through this process, teams can establish a clear, shared identity that serves as a guidepost for their work. The “24/7 Lecture” format provides a helpful set of enabling constraints to make the task manageable and engaging.

The 3 W’s of Team Identity

At the heart of this approach are three key questions that establish a team’s core purpose and focus:

  1. Why: Why does this team exist? What is our overarching mission or purpose?
  2. What: What are our core responsibilities and activities as a team?
  3. Who: Who are the key stakeholders, customers, or audiences we serve?
Clearly defining these “3 W’s” gives the team a shared understanding of their identity and direction, helping to align everyone around a common north star.

Chartering High-Performance Teams in Practice

I’ve found that having teams articulate their “24/7 Lecture” – both the longer technical version and the concise 7-word summary – can be a powerful exercise. It gets everyone on the same page, and the creative process promotes camaraderie, builds trust, and explores team behaviors and roles.

Below are two examples of “24/7 Lectures” developed by real high-performance teams I’ve worked with, and thanks to, I’ve put the lectures to music.

API Team’s Purpose and Responsibilities

Lyrics by: Vraj , Sr. Software Engineer; Kelly, Software Engineer; Amber, Software Engineer; Meghan, Product Owner; Ben, Data Ninja; Olivia, Marketing Ninja; Ian, CS Ninja

Agile Coaching Birds of a Feather “24/7 Lecture”


Chartering high-performing teams is no easy feat, but taking the time to define the team’s “Why, What, and Who” can pay huge dividends. I encourage you to try out the “24/7 Lecture” approach the next time you’re working with a newly formed team or an existing group that needs to re-center themselves.

By having teams articulate their purpose, responsibilities, and target audience – both in a technical 24-second explanation and a concise 7-word summary – they can establish a clear, shared identity.

The “24/7 Lecture” is a creative technique that helps facilitate this process in a fun and memorable way.

Read More

For more on Improbable Research and their 24/7 lectures, bop on over to:

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  1. Has it really been 9 years?! []

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