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Part I: The Elements of Check In

Whether the members of a team are dispersed across the world or crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in rows of cubicles, distance is always the central issue among collaborators. The remedy for distance is presence.

The Check In Protocol

The CheckIn protocol provides two major components for establishing and developing high-performance collaboration: an enlistment procedure and an interpersonal connectivity process. The former (re)affirms each individual's commitment to a body of proven efficiency-enhancing behaviors. The latter provides individuals with an opportunity to efficiently reveal their personal states.

CheckIn begins with a rich, interactive roll call. This is its connective component. Conventionally, a roll call provides a way to determine who is physically present. With the CheckIn protocol, each team member can also disclose the character and the disposition of his presence. While an ordinary roll call asks, "Who is present?", the CheckIn pattern also asks, "What's going on with you?"

Each individual CheckIn culminates in a brief statement (that is, "I'm in") that renews the individual's commitment to seek efficiency and to "play by the rules" of The Core.

The Check Out Protocol

Occasionally, an individual will take a break from the intense levels of productive engagement required by The Core. The CheckOut protocol makes such breaks possible and minimizes any disruption to the rest of the team.

The Passer Protocol

The Passer protocol serves as a safety valve for the entirety of The Core protocols. It provides a means for any individual to decline to participate in a Core protocol or process without being questioned by the other team members.

With few exceptions, any team member can pass on any activity associated with The Core protocols at any time, for any reason, without extra scrutiny.


Connection is a pattern that describes the process and benefits of mutual presence.

Problem Behaviors

There are reasons that the higher degrees of individual presence aren't routinely found in teams that do not use The Core. The attitudes and behaviors we have seen repeatedly are captured in three presence-related antipatterns: TooEmotional, NoHurtFeelings and WrongTolerance

Too Emotional

When you encounter intense emotion at work, you often feel that someone is being too emotional. This condition usually arises when normal, everyday emotion, after being too long repressed, suddenly erupts. When emotions are processed in this delayed, bursty, and unpredictable way, the behavior that results often is, or seems, ineffective or self-destructive. The problem, though, is not that the person is too emotional. He is not emotional enough.

No Hurt Feelings

This common antipattern describes the bad decisions and ineffective steps that people take to avoid telling one another the truth.

Wrong Tolerance

Tolerance is not always a virtue. Behaviors that don't work should not be tolerated. But they are.

Patterns Synergistic with Check In

CheckIn depends on several other patterns also covered in Part I.

Team = Product

The Team = Product pattern identifies and mediates group problems by comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the team with the characteristics of its products. Applying the Team = Product pattern supplies ample and effective team diagnostics.


The Self-Care pattern describes the desirable effects that accrue to a team when each person on it is responsible for taking care of one person and one person only: himself.

Thinking and Feeling

The ThinkingandFeeling pattern describes the benefits and delineates the surprisingly challenging practice of thinking and feeling simultaneously.


The Pretend pattern identifies the importance of experimenting with beliefs and performing thought experiments as a way to discover effectiveness.

Greatness Cycle

The GreatnessCycle pattern identifies a desirable group value system and describes in practical terms some of the behaviors that embody those values (smarts, presence, integrity, conflict, passion, and greatness). The sequence of GreatnessCycle is laid bare, and the pattern depicts how the application of one value leads to the next.

When smart individuals intensify their presence (a requisite characteristic of smartness), their resulting expressions of integrity lead to conflict. Conflict, in turn, will tend to line people up behind what they care about, which is, at heart, the definition of passion. The maturing of passion creates the conditions that allow for great results.

It is unlikely that a team will consistently attain excellence, and get its shot at greatness, without experiencing this cycle.

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