Cognitive Load Theory – what to do

As a sister blog to Andy Tharby’s Cognitive Load Theory post on the Durrington Research School website, this piece will focus on practical applications for classroom teachers.

In order to dovetail with the Research School blog, these strategies will be arranged and preceded by information from research published by the Department for Education in New South Wales, Australia: Cognitive load theory in practice: Examples for the classroom.


Strategy 1: Tailor lessons according to students’ existing knowledge and skill

One of the most important implications of cognitive load theory for teaching practice is the need to optimise students’ cognitive load, by striking the right balance between too much and too little load. To do this effectively, teachers need to have a strong understanding of where students already sit in their learning.

  • Introduce new, and in particular complex, information in short chunks.  After each chunk use questioning or comprehension activities to check understanding.
  • Before asking students to apply a technique or concept you have previously taught, precede this by recapping the technique or concept.  Use a familiar example to do this before asking students to apply it to something unfamiliar.

Strategy 2: Use lots of worked examples to teach students new content and skills

A ‘worked example’ is a problem that has already been solved for the student, with every step fully explained and clearly shown. Research consistently demonstrates that students who are given lots of worked examples learn new content more effectively than students who are required to solve the same problem themselves.

  • When asking students to complete a task, have a completed version of the same task alongside it for reference.  This reduces extraneous cognitive load as students will not be required to attend to the instructions for how to complete the task as well as the task itself.
  • Provide annotations on pieces of complex extended writing (i.e. Shakespeare) for which comprehension would make the intrinsic cognitive load of the task too high for students to make effective inferences.

Strategy 3: Gradually increase independent problem-solving as students become more proficient

While fully guided instruction is very effective for teaching students new material, it becomes less effective as students become more expert at a particular skill. Eventually, fully guided instruction becomes redundant or even counter-productive and students benefit more from independent problem-solving. As students become more skilled at solving a particular type of problem, they should gradually be given more opportunities for independent problem-solving.

  • Omit some steps from a worked example.
  • Gradually give students fewer worked examples.

Strategy 4: Cut out inessential information

We sometimes assume that providing students with extra information is helpful, or at the very least harmless. However, presenting students with inessential information can hinder learning. Inessential information can be information that students already know, additional information that is not directly relevant to the lesson, or the same information presented in multiple forms.

  • Pare down your PowerPoints to only the most essential text and a few key images.
  • Never talk over students while they are reading.
  • Avoid overly busy classroom displays around your whiteboard.
  • Once students are familiar with a  particular task, do not give them instructions on how to complete it.

Strategy 5: Present all essential information together

Cognitive overload can occur when students have to split their attention between two or more sources of information that have been presented separately, but can only be understood in reference to each other.

  • If you wish to provide a labelled diagram or map, ensure the labels are written directly on to it rather than being on a different sheet or even alongside.  Having to go back and forth will have a negative effect on cognitive load.
  • Have instructions incorporated into the task, rather than on a separate sheet.  So if students are filling in a spreadsheet, have the blank version contain the instructions on what to do.

Strategy 6: Simplify complex information by presenting it both orally and visually

When there are two or more sources of information that can only be understood in reference to each other, cognitive load can be managed by presenting information both orally and visually. This strategy increases the capacity of students’ working memories, creating more mental space for learning.

  • When producing mindmaps on the board use a combination of both words and pictures with the visuals used to represent the overall topics and the words for the more precise details.
  • When explaining a new concept use a PowerPoint containing only images.  Simply explain the concept verbally while making reference to each image.

Strategy 7: Encourage students to imagine concepts and procedures that they have learnt

Encouraging students to visualise what they have learnt helps them to better understand and recall the information. Once students have a good grasp of the content, the mental process of visualising helps students to store the information more effectively in their long-term memories. This strategy should only be used once students are familiar with the content, as visualising imposes quite a heavy cognitive load.

  • In practical subjects, ask students to visualise the procedure you taught them in the previous lesson at the start of the next one.  Ask them to do this several times and then write down all the steps.
  • Ask students to visualise a concrete example that helps explain an abstract concept.  So if you were explaining the idea of scarcity, ask them to imagine a cinema with all the seats slowly filling up.

Posted by Chris Runeckles

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The Active Ingredients of Great Teaching

At DMAT, we have moved away from a ‘tick-box’ approach to teaching and have embraced a ‘tight but loose’ approach.  We want teaching to be tight, in terms of focusing on sound , evidence-informed pedagogical principles, but loose in terms of how this is interpreted in classrooms.  For example, how a PE teacher models throwing a javelin will be very different to how a history teacher models how to write a discursive essay.  We do not talk about ‘outstanding’ teaching and we do not grade lessons; instead we talk about great teaching and how all teachers can get that little bit better.

We have distilled our view of great teaching down to six pedagogical principles – the ‘active ingredients’ of great teaching. We believe that when teachers implement these principles effectively, students learn well, have high aspirations of what they can achieve and so develop into confident and resilient learners.  Over the last half term the Durrington Research School team have been blogging about these six principles, here and on the Research School website.  This post collates all of these blogs.

The first principle, challenge, is the driving force of teaching. Only by giving our students work that makes them struggle, and having the highest possible expectations of their capacity to learn, will we be able to move them beyond what they already know and can do.

Further reading:

The Fundamentals of challenge – expectations and cognitive load

Everyday Challenge

Challenge informs teacher explanation, which is the skill of conveying new concepts and ideas. The trick is to make abstract, complex ideas clear and concrete in students’ minds. It is deceptively hard to do well.

Further reading:

Unpicking Explanation

Explanation Made Easy

Next is modelling. This involves ‘walking’ students through problems and procedures so that we can demonstrate the procedures and thought processes they will soon apply themselves.

Further reading:

Mastering Modelling

Everyday Modelling

Without practice student learning will be patchy and insecure. They need to do it, and they need to do it many times, as they move towards independence. It goes without saying that practice is the fulcrum around which the other five strategies turn. This is because it develops something that is fundamental to learning – memory.

Further reading:

Practice With Purpose

Supporting Practice

Students need to know where they are going and how they are going to get there. Without feedback, our fifth principle, practice becomes little more than ‘task completion’. We give students feedback to guide them on the right path, and we receive feedback from students to modify our future practice. And so the cycle continues.

Further reading:

Thinking About Feedback

Focus on Feedback

Our last principle is questioning. Like explanation, questioning is a master art. It has a range of purposes: it allows us to keep students on track by testing for misconceptions and  it promotes deeper thought about subject content.

Further reading:


The Importance of Questioning

There are a number of ways you can find out more about this approach:

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Focus on Feedback

Earlier this week Fran Haynes wrote a great blog on the Durrington Research School site, exploring the research evidence around effective feedback. You can read it here. This completes a series of blogs this half term on the six pedagogical principles that shape our approach to teaching here at Durrington.

In ‘What does it look like in the classroom?‘ by Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson, Dylan Wiliam makes some typically insightful comments about feedback:

“Make feedback into detective work.”

“…the major purpose of feedback should be to improve the student.”

“Just one sentence explaining to students why feedback was being given made a huge difference to their achievement.”

“I once estimated that, if you price teachers’ time appropriately, in England we spend about two and a half billion pounds a year on feedback and it has almost no effect on student achievement.”

“I think teachers should be spending twice as much time planning teaching as they do marking.”

What does this all tell us?  When feedback has a clear purpose, aimed at making students think carefully about how they can get better at what they are doing, it can be incredibly useful.  However, it needs to be measured, appropriate for the subject and not take a disproportionate amount of teacher time.  So what time efficient, but high impact feedback strategies are there that teachers can graft onto their existing practice to achieve this? Here are a few:

Highlighter Action

This is a great one for ‘making feedback into detective work‘.  As students are working on a task, look over their shoulder as they are working, armed with a highlighter pen.  If you spot a mistake, or something that could be improved, simply highlight it, say nothing and move on.

Tell students that anything you have highlighted either needs to be corrected or improved – then leave them to it.  They then have to think about what they need to do to correct it, or improve it.  At some point in the lesson, you can then check what they have done.

Live Marking


This is similar to ‘highlighter action’ as it makes students think about their work.  Again, look at their work in lesson, as they are working.  Write a question that will develop their work further and then leave them to respond to the question (see example above).  You can then return to them later in the lesson to check their response.  Can you do this every lesson, with every student?  Of course not.  The trick is to get into the habit of doing it regularly, focusing on the key learning points.

Whole Class Feedback

This is a really useful and time-efficient strategy for teachers to use.  If you are marking an assessment or a mock exam or a homework task, have a sheet of paper to hand or a copy of the marking scheme.  As you are marking the papers/work, when you notice a number of students making the same mistakes, make a note of them – or annotate the mark scheme, with the marks they are missing and why.

Next lesson, you can then talk through these common mistakes, why they made them and what they need to do differently in the future.  Students can then use this input to address the mistakes they made.

You can adapt this in a number of ways.  For example, collect in a set of exercise books, but then rather than slavishly ‘ticking and flicking’, look through the books, make notes on the common errors and then discuss these with the class next lesson.

Pre-flight checklist

This comes from Dan Brinton. The idea is very simple.  Before students start a task, give them a checklist of the main points they need to include. In the example above, this is focused on how to draw a face.  As students are completing the task,  they can use this to check their own work for these key points and improve it accordingly.  This works best when the ‘success criteria’ are very clear and easy to interpret by students.  If they are too complex and require too much ‘expert’ knowledge, it won’t work.

This can be simplified by giving students some key tier 2/3 vocabulary they should be using in their written response, before they start.  They could be given these words before they start writing their response, or after they have written their first draft to help support their redrafting.

Verbal Feedback

Never underestimate the power of just telling students what they need to do to improve their work.  Great PE, drama, music and art teachers do this all the time – so let’s all embrace this key aspect of responsive teaching.  We can make a few simple adjustments to this though, to make it more effective.  For example, once you have given the feedback, ask the students some questions to make them really think about the feedback you have given them:

  • Tell me in your own words what you need to do to improve?”
  • “How is this feedback going to improve what you are doing?”
  • “Once I go, what’s the first thing you are going to do as a result of my feedback?
  • Why have I given you this feedback?



Feedback is a key aspect of the learning process – we need to know how we can get better at what we are doing.  That said, it doesn’t have to be a workload nightmare for teachers, in order to be effective.

Further reading:

A Marked Improvement – EEF

Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking – Independent Teacher Workload Review Group.

The power of feedback – Hattie & Timperley

Posted by Shaun Allison


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The Importance of Questioning


As Andy Tharby and Shaun Allison argue good questioning is a fundamental but “ubiquitous” and “fluid” part of the learning process. Effective questioning should also allow teachers to formatively assess students understanding of a new concept, motivate students to engage in their learning and encourage students to ask their own questions, as such the quality of questioning can make or break a lesson. The question must be asked then – how can we make sure our questioning is effective?

  1. Cold Calling:

Lemov refers to the ‘culture of engaged accountability’ where every student knows that it is a possibility that they will have to answer a question. As such students can’t afford to be RHINOs, Really Here in Name Only, (Oakley et al, 2002), hiding behind their more proactive peers who regularly put their hands up. The awareness that they could be asked a question, ensures that students engage and attend the questions asked rather than “switching off” as they know one of their peers is likely to volunteer an answer. Cold calling also allows you to target your questioning focusing on at risk groups of students or students that require a little persuasion to engage in the lesson.

  1. Hands-up:

The growing popularity of cold-calling, has led to criticism of the traditional hands-up approach, predominantly for the reasons above regarding our in class RHINOs. Hands-up can be used to quickly assess a classes understanding of new content, if many hands go up then it may be assumed that students have understood that concept and you can move on, while few hands may indicate a need to revisit the concept. In “ Making Every Lesson Count” Andy and Shaun recommend that when few students raise their hands, you should question those that have kept their hands down as to what they are “struggling to understand” – this means that “sitting on their hands” is not an easy way to opt-out. Similarly it is important to allow students who have raised their hand to answer as they have attended to the question, thought about their response and therefore merit the praise and opportunity that comes from answering the question.

  1. Open and Closed Questions:

Closed questioning has received a bad press, for allowing only basic answers, while open-questions are hailed for providing a rich tapestry of qualitative data. Open-questions allow student to expand on their understanding, however to discount the value of closed-questions would be incorrect. Closed-questions can force students to retrieve prior knowledge, recall key facts and figures and also allow teachers to assess the base/surface knowledge students have before delving into this in greater depth. As such it is logical to usually start with closed questions before moving onto open questions.

  1. Probing:

It is important that we do not accept superficial or basic answers, therefore while the initial question is important, it is only as good as the subsequent questions that follow it. Although a basic idea, any questioning can be easily developed by considering the “serve and return” idea in which teachers follow up the response to the first question with another question. This fosters the culture in your class that superficial answers will not meet expectations. Going beyond the simple idea of serve and return, teachers may wish to consider “Socratic questioning” which uses a hierarchical set of question themes/stems to challenge students thinking – these questions move from clarification of students thinking (i.e. Why do you say that?) to questions that question the question (i.e. Why do you think I asked that question?). These final questions can be used when modelling metacognitive processes (see previous blog) to encourage students to think beyond the declarative knowledge used when answering a question. A full list of Socratic Questions can be found here)

  1. Dealing with “Don’t know”:

We’ve all been there (typically mid-observation or as a member of SLT drops-in) when a student responds with “I don’t know”. It can be easy to move on, asking another, simpler question or passing the question to another student – anything to avoid the dreaded silence. However if we accept “I don’t know” we run the risk of making this an acceptable norm of our classroom, and an easy out for our students who don’t want to struggle – we must therefore persist. I dropped in on Sam Atkins, our Deputy Leader of Geography, with a year 7 class last week. The students were discussing the impacts of tourism in the Arctic, and Sam was trying to draw out from a particular student how increasing awareness of the negative impacts of tourism might affect people’s holiday decision. Whilst the student understood the negative impacts of tourism he was not making the connection Sam was after. What was great to see was that Sam persisted with his questioning – there were many students around the room that clearly had the answer and were keen to give it. It would have been easy for Sam to ask one of these students, but he did not. Instead Sam reminded the student of what he and others had already said, clarifying this for the student and then rephrased the question without reducing the challenge. When this was unsuccessful, Sam then gave the student the answer but asked him to explain how Sam had reached that answer. On top of this it was clear that in his classroom that the struggle the student was experiencing was normal and neither the student nor his peers felt uncomfortable. Of course there are times when no matter the strategies you out in place a student may still “not know”, the teacher must then make the decision to move on and ask another student, however it is important that the teacher returns to the original student later in the lesson or questioning phase to check they have listened to the correct answer and progressed from the “don’t know” stage to a degree of understanding.


Ben Crockett

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Supporting Practice

Practice is an essential element in the acquisition of learning something new. Practice is utilising, applying, enacting, thinking about, writing about or speaking about new knowledge and skills so that can be consolidated or enhanced. To learn how to do something students must have the opportunity to practice. In The Hidden Lives of Learners, Graham Nuthall suggests students need to encounter something a minimum of three times if they are going to remember it. Therefore, it is our job as teachers to give students opportunities to practise what is required of them in order to succeed in our subject areas.

In ‘Practice with Purpose’ Shaun Allison offers a useful insight into the research underpinning purposeful practice. The ways Shaun suggests teachers can mobilise the research evidence are:

  1. Plan opportunities to revisit previously studied topics in lessons. You can read about how one maths teacher has done this here.
  2.  Set homeworks that ask students questions about what they have been doing recently, but also have sections on topics that have been studied previously.
  3. Use low stake quizzes at the start of the lesson that require students to retrieve information from last lesson, last month and last term.
  4. When encourage students to devise their own revision plan for your subject, make sure they space out the topics, leading up to the exam. A blank revision calendar will help with this.
  5. Plan the curriculum so that you return to topics over time

This blogs aims to offer three strategies than can be used to support students with ‘purposeful practice’ across all five of the ideas listed above.

  • Knowledge Organisers –  Fran Haynes has written a blog on how to maximise the efficiency of knowledge organisers . They can be useful for ensuring all of the elements needed for practice are in one place, so as a result, they make the student feel more confident about practising the particular task, because they have access to the correct vocabulary.  They can be used to assist students with tasks or questions both in lessons and at home, they can also be used for low stakes quizzes or to fill in blank sections. An example from Computer Science is below:

  • Checklists – Checklists are simple yet highly effective.  They can be used to ‘chunk’ the specification into manageable and digestible sections. If practice is going to be purposeful, it needs to be focused and targeted on a specific area that requires improvement.  Checklists allow students to identify the areas they are weak in and practise that particular topic, rather than just adopting a blanket approach which will be overwhelming. Below is a simple checklist for AQA GCSE PE.

  •  Retrieval Practice – Retrieval practice is essential in terms of supporting long term memory.  It is the act of having to retrieve something from memory, often with the help of a cue. It can be used in many different ways ranging from low stakes quizzing (including questions that go back beyond what they learnt last lesson), verbal questioning during lessons, using  flashcards and Cornell note taking (more on this here).  Planning regular opportunities in lessons for students to retrieve information from memory, as well as supporting them to use this as a revision strategy through flashcards for example, will support their learning.

It is crucial that students are given opportunities to practice, whether it is to retain difficult content or to break down the thought processes to answer exam questions. It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure we maximise the quality of the practice opportunities in our lessons, by providing them resources such as the ones mentioned here, to ensure it is in turn, ‘purposeful practice’.

Posted by James Crane

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100 things 1% better

On Friday at our DMAT Leadership Conference, Humphrey Walters talked to us about his experience of working with winning teams – you can read more about it here.  One of the points he made is that winning teams don’t make single big changes.  Instead they look where all the fine margins of potential improvement might be and make these changes, across the team.  This is something we have been looking at here at Durrington.

In September we launched our ‘Disciplined Inquiry’ approach to appraisal.  We wanted all teachers to think about a small improvement they could make to their practice and really focus on developing that, over the course of this year.  Alongside this, we have been discussing how we can develop formative assessment and have shaped this around Dylan William’s five key strategies:


Chris Runeckles has written about how these five strategies can be mobilised in the classroom here.

So, the first part of our INSET day today was a celebration of the brilliant way in which so many of our teachers are embracing this approach and taking control of their own professional development.

Formative Assessment

Chris Runeckles kicked off this part of the session by clarifying the key point of formative assessment.  Activities such as quizzing, questioning and feedback are great, however, they only become formative if the teacher changes something about their teaching or the curriculum, as a result of what these activities tell them. He then shared some examples from our staff that he saw on a recent ‘bright spots’ walk around the school:

  • Kelly Heane in English, was using the ‘I, we, You’ modelling technique with her Y11 students.   She had established from her marking certain areas of weakness in a section of the paper and was scaffolding independent practice in this area.
  • Kathy Hughes in maths was using a starter with a mix of different activities.  She was then circulating and giving feedback based on misconceptions and errors from students.
  • Becky Owen in science was using  using homework as a means of formative assessment.  Students were self-assessing their responses but Becky highlighted their incorrect as well as correct answers, and used this as an opportunity to correct misconceptions and deepen understanding.
  • Beth Clarke in history used homework involving an exam question formatively, with whole-class feedback based on common mistakes and misconceptions, to supplement summative grades.
  • Hannah Townsend in geography was relentless with her use of elaborative questioning to really make students think deeply about their knowledge of plate tectonics.  This was great example of ‘the reward for a good answer is an even more difficult question’.
  • Cyrus Dean in music used questioning for formative assessment of tier 3 vocab. He was asking a question, waiting to see how many hands went up and then choosing someone to ask.  As a result, the whole class had to do the thinking and Cyrus could reframe his teaching if very few students appeared to understand the question.

Inquiry Questions

Following this ‘bright spots’ focused on formative assessment, four colleagues shared how they have been developing their teaching, based on the ‘Inquiry Question‘ they set themselves in September.

  • Kate Blight has been focusing on developing her explicit vocabulary instruction in maths.  She has chosen this focus due to the change in format of many of the GCSE maths questions – they now contain far more tier 2/3 languages that students must understand if they are going to access the question.  She has approached this by developing knowledge organisers and encouraging students to use these in a variety of ways e.g. recalling the definition; giving them the definition and then they have to remember the word.  She also now encourages students to underline specific words e.g. regular polygon in a questiondiscuss what ‘regular’ means in this context and then annotate this word for future reference.  As a result, Kate has noticed that her students are happier to attempt longer worded questions and are scoring more marks in these questions.  She is now also a convert to the usefulness of knowledge organisers and the idea that literacy is not something that is just the responsibility of English teachers.
  • John Mulhern has been thinking about his Y10 maths class, which contains a high number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.   A number of these students lack confidence and are not performing well.  So, John’s focus has been very simple.  He has increased the volume and variety (low demand and high demand) of questions that he asks these students – and does not allow them to ‘opt-out’ of answering. He also uses elaborative interrogation, to further develop their thinking.  As a result he is noticing that these students are growing in confidence and are now far less reticent about responding to questions in lessons.  He is looking forward to their next assessment, to see if their grades will increase as a result of this new level of thinking, that is being generated by his questioning.
  • Ryan De Gruchy has been working with his colleagues in PE to improve the reliability of KS3 assessments.  He decided to focus on this because he was beginning to feel that the subject knowledge of the PE teachers was influencing the accuracy of the assessment judgements being made. Ryan has been using the fortnightly ‘Subject Planning & Development Sessions’ (SPDS) to tackle this issue.  Firstly, subject knowledge sessions have been put in place to ensure that subject knowledge is strong, outside of your specialism e.g. dance, football, netball etc.  Secondly, KS3 groups were videoed and then watched at SPDS to standardise judgements.  This has generated a great deal of useful discussion amongst PE teachers who, as a result, are now far more confident about the formative assessment in their own teaching.
  • Rob Suckling from geography has been looking at the impact of explicit teaching metacognitive processes to his Y10 class, with a particular focus on low performing middle attaining boys.  Rob has employed a variety of strategies to support this e.g. modelling the metacognitive process in lessons (breakdown the question; plan the answer; half-way pause; reflect – did you answer the question?); homeworks that require students to document their thought process when tackling a question; Socratic questioning to deepen thinking.  Rob has already noticed an improvement in the written responses of these students and there have been promising signs of improvement in their assessment scores.

It was incredibly heartening to hear colleagues talk about their practice in such an open and professional way.  This was exactly what we wanted this ‘disciplined inquiry‘ approach to look like, when we launched it in September – teachers identifying an area of their practice that they wanted to improve; using the research evidence to plan a ‘best bets’ approach; purposefully practising this approach in their classrooms; thinking of some way of evaluating the impact.

If every teacher reflects upon and develops their teaching in such a focused and professional way, what a huge impact this will potentially have across our whole team of teachers!

Posted by Shaun Allison

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Winning Teams

“Building winning teams is a game of inches”

Humphrey Walters

On Friday we held our first DMAT leadership conference.  The theme of the conference was ‘World Class Performance – Winning Teams’ and we got off to a great start with a talk from Humphrey Walters.  Humphrey know about winning teams.  He worked with Clive Woodward to turn the English rugby team into a World Cup winning team and Sam Allardyce to help Bolton Wanderers FC stay in the premiership.  He also sailed around the world (the wrong way) as a part of the BT global challenge team.  From the Olympics we all remember the slogan ‘inspiring a generation’ and the name ‘Team GB‘. These were both Humphrey’s ideas.  So, he has a strong track record of success. You can read more about him here.

Here are some attributes of winning teams from Humphrey’s talk:

  • “Focus on ruthless simplicity & world class basics” – know what’s going to make the biggest difference and focus relentlessly on this.  Stop doing things that are going to waste time and stop you from focusing on what counts. So for schools, what are the aspects of teaching that, based on evidence, have the best chance of success?  Focus on this.
  • “Focus on the critical non-essentials” what are the things that no one else is doing, because they are not essential, but you think will give your team the extra edge?  Make these essential to your team.
  • “Create a winning environment and pride in the badge” – create an environment that makes the people in it believe they are world class and have pride in the organisation.  So for schools, this means a safe, tidy and orderly environment, with high expectations in terms of uniform and behaviour.
  • “Concentrate on what you can control” – in education there are so many things that are out of our control e,g, parents and funding.  So, we should focus on the things we can control e.g. curriculum, teaching, assessment and behaviour.
  • “Look after each other and tell people how good they are” – invest time in your team, check how they are  and look after them.  A part of this is celebrating the strengths of your team and making sure we tell people when they do a good job.  Based on his time as a crew member on a yacht, that sailed around the world, Humphrey says that a winning team should be serious on top and have fun down below’ – work really hard but have a lot of fun.
  • “Do 100 things 1% better” rather than trying to make big changes, focus on doing the basics that little bit better.
  • “Spend more time on the successes than the failures” – of course it’s important to look at what fails, why it fails and learn from it, but it is more important to focus on what’s working, do more of it and do it even better!
  • “No dumb ideas” – create a culture within the team, where everybody feels safe to put forward an idea.  It might just be the idea that results in further improvement.
  • “Dream big but celebrate the mini victories” – set your aspirations high and believe that you can be the best in the world (somebody has to be!) However, it’s important to celebrate the small victories on the way – and congratulate the team for achieving these milestones.
  • “Leadership is key, but followership is just as important” – good teams will have robust discussions about the best way forward.  However, once an approach is decided upon, everybody sticks to it, supports it and gives it their all.  Furthermore, team members should need to be told just once and then do the job really well.
  • “Look for the next gap in the wave” – always be looking out for the next change that is going to get you that next bit of improvement – no matter how small.
  • “Create winning language and behaviours and refer to them all the time” – agree the language and behaviours you want to see as a team and stick to it.  This also means agreeing the language and behaviours you don’t want see e.g. ‘low or high ability’, ‘could we…’, ‘try to…’

Here’s a great summary of Humphrey’s approach to building a winning team.

And here’s a video of Humphrey:

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