Theoretical Underpinnings of We-Q

We don’t make any claims to have invented a highfalutin theory for We-Q. Quite the opposite. We wanted to create something simple to help teams become more effective, response able, and joyful. We-Q is an accessible ‘social technology to create cultures where purposeful innovation and effectiveness can flourish’; where we can be ‘All Together Brilliant’.

We-Q is an amalgam of existing concepts blended together and refreshed. It takes into account the need for agile organisations, the dynamics of the culture we live in, the expectations of ‘Generation Y&Z’, and it uses the best of new technology which enables multiple connections to occur rapidly. 

We appreciate the value of theory and models, but we also know their limitations. As someone said, “all models are wrong, but some are helpful”. 

We’ve worked directly with people from local social groups to multinationals, functional teams to C-suite executives, all of whom aspire to do better. We-Q is a blend of all of these influences and learnings from the field. We are a learning organisation and take feedback very seriously indeed. As needs change so will the tools and process. It is a living thing.

Of course any ‘new’ ideas in the area of management and leadership stand on the shoulders of giants. We-Q can be traced back to the beginnings of the Human Potential Movement and beyond. 

The founders amongst many others: Maslow, Rogers, Perls, Berne and Heron, all explored the nature of what a human might become, individually and collectively. Their work morphed into modern management practice and personal development processes such as TA, Gestalt, even Landmark Forum and many others including spiritual practice such as Transcendental Meditation, and the work of Osho amongst many others.

Our influences have come from a deeper understanding of the needs of people in work to feel at their best as much as possible. Synthesised from research in the disciplines of recruitment, engagement, innovation, quality control, and effectiveness, what we have discovered is that people are increasingly struggling to resolve seemingly contradictory organisational and cultural needs:

  1. To feel good within and about oneself in our place of work. To feel comfortable and safe expressing ourselves (Be Fully Myself – BFM)

  2. To be part of a group, which values and respects all individual’s full contribution. A culture which errs on the side of ‘curiosity, rather than judgement. (How We Behave – HWB)

  3. To feel useful, effective and enjoy being productive. (Getting Things Done – GTD)

  4. To do the right thing morally and ethically, for oneself, one’s family, and for the non human world, especially at a time of man made climate change (Do the Right Thing – DTR)

The following research is of particular note for the impact that it has had on the development of We-Q.

Frederic Laloux. Reinventing Organisations

This has rapidly become the bible of self management with traditional power hierarchy, replaced with natural hierarchy processes. In the emergence of the ‘teal’ organisation, we are witnessing a new way of harnessing the natural brilliance of people in self organising systems, which have a deep understanding of advanced group dynamics rooted in simple methodologies and wisdom. 

We-Q is a tool for transitioning from hierarchical management, through better management into true self management. From hierarchy, through to co-operation to autonomy. We-Q is a ‘how to’ tool for self management, as well as more effective hierarchical management.

Gallup Employee Engagement

Gallup researchers spent decades writing and testing hundreds of questions, calibrating their wording and order, to accurately measure meaningful engagement. Studying survey results from more than 25 million employees around the world. Their research yielded Gallup’s Q12 survey: the 12 questions that measure the most important elements of employee engagement. 

Although weak on Values and current shifts in Gen Z thinking, Gallup is a gold standard in this area. It has a weakness in providing live actionable data, which We-Q addresses.

The Barrett Model

The Seven Levels Model describes the evolutionary development of humans where we operate at levels of consciousness and grow in stages of psychological development. The Consciousness Model applies to all human group structures – organisations, communities, nations whereas the Psychological Development Model applies to all individuals. 

This developmental nature of group culture has influenced the evolution of We-Q’s impact over time.

Lencioni: The 5 dysfunctions of a team

A very influential thinker in this field who identified 5 dysfunctions: 

  • Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group

  • Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate

  • Lack of commitment – feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization

  • Avoidance of accountability – ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards

  • Inattention to results – focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success

From dysfunctions into functions, We-Q measures how well teams commit to positive behaviours to tackle these challenges. 

Project Aristotle: Google’s search for the perfect team

Google’s Project Aristotle team was tasked to figure out what made a team successful and they kept coming across research that focused on group norms: the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals but when together, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.

For Google, research on psychological safety pointed to the particular norms that are vital to success. While there were other behaviors that seemed important, like having clear goals and creating a culture of dependability, Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work. Googlers love data’ so Project Aristotle encouraged emotional conversations and discussions of norms among people who might otherwise be uncomfortable talking about how they feel. They found it was easier to talk about their feelings when they can point to a number!

Theory U

Otto Scharma’s Theory U proposes that the quality of the results that we create in any kind of social system is a function of the quality of awareness, attention, or consciousness that the participants in the system operate from. 

Since it emerged around 2006, Theory U has come to be understood in three primary ways: first as a framework; second, as a method for leading profound change; and third, as a way of being – connecting to the more authentic of higher aspects of our self. We can only change a system to the extent that we have understood and developed ourselves and our awareness to ourselves and our relationship to the system.

We-Q is fundamentally a tool to raise awareness of self, other, group and impacts on all stakeholders. We-Q is also a developmental process deepening people’s awareness over time. As they do so, they are better able to influence the whole system

Gen Z

Generational research is showing a significant shift in values of those entering the job market. Values related to ethics, and whether a company’s products and service are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, is prominent in their choices. Gen Z appear to be most effective where there is alignment between their values and those of the organisation they are thinking of joining. 

Naturally there are many more influences on out thinking and the development of the We-Q tools and process. As we learn more, we will continue to innovate and develop its simplicity and power.

Sustainable Development: UN 17 Goals to Transform Our World

Governments, businesses and civil society together with the United Nations have started to mobilize efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda by 2030. Universal, inclusive and indivisible, the Agenda calls for action by all countries to improve the lives of people everywhere.


Making the invisible stuff in teams visible