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The Game of Teams

Teams are the new unit of currency in business. Harnessing the wisdom and brilliance of teams is not easy. It can be messy, confusing, non linear and complicated. Learn from your peers and thought leaders about what it takes. Listen to their stories, pains, and pride when it works. This show is about the magic of mining work and relations for high performance, satisfaction and fulfilment on teams

May 15, 2019

Introduction: David Emerald and Donna Zajonc are a husband and wife team and also business partners & founders of the Bainbridge Leadership Center. David is the author of the best selling book The Power of Ted and has recently published his second book called 3 vital questions, transforming workplace drama. Donna is a Master Certified Coach and together they teach, facilitate and speak to the power of TED and the 3 Vital Questions framework to transform workplace drama. 

Podcast episode summary: This episode describes what it means to be human and how we succumb to drama.  Stephen Karpman described a social model of human interaction called the drama triangle. As humans in reaction to problems we often jump onto the drama triangle and assume one of three roles, the Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer. The antidote is another triangle, called The Empowerment Dynamic or TED, which speaks to our inherent capacity to be creative. Three roles comprise TED, the Creator, Challenger and Coach. David’s next book Three Vital Questions is set in an organisational context and speaks to how we are thinking, relating and acting in our business, often informed by our way of being in our personal lives. TED can be described as a self-Leadership book and the 3 Vital Questions an answer to our Leadership and teamwork choices in work. David and Donna share the auspices of their books, the motivation behind the writing and share what each involves through the course of this episode. Each book is a very digestible fable that perhaps masks the inherent complexity and nuances behind the material. This is not a Pollyanna type answer to drama but a conscious consciousness and call for us to wake up to our patterns and begin to exercise choice. 

  • Donna and David liken themselves to translators condensing complex human conditions into digestible and applicable frameworks
  • David started by sharing our very essence is as creators. We have the capacity to be in choice about the outcomes we want, to think about how we are thinking and to raise our awareness about how we are relating to others and ourselves. We then create by taking baby steps. 
  • The core of what David and Donna teach is shifting from a set of relations/roles and dynamic in the dreaded drama triangle or DDT for short when we are in the dance of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer to a more empowering set of relations/roles or dynamic called TED. 
  • In order to develop our inherent capacity as creators we can cultivate the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach called TED. 
  • We have an internal DDT triangle and TED available to us as well as these roles in relation to others. 
  • A good start is to self diagnose how we relate to ourselves and then learn to pause, stop and allow for the whisperer creator to emerge. 
  • Do not be numb or seduced by the inherent simplicity of the models they belie a lot of unconscious unravelling and neurological wiring. The roles are dynamic but the triangles serve to depict a static depiction of dynamic reality. Once we can notice we have the capacity to shift and alter our operational models. 
  • These roles can be enacted by organisations in the culture they create, between sub-groups or functions and of course on teams as well. 
  • Donna shared a story of a team who once they understood the DDT and the choice to pursue TED they were able to first change the language on their website that was predominantly problem focused. 
  • The work moving from DDT to TED is not simplistic or “Pollyannaesque” The work is often beset with problems. The trick is to first outline what outcome/purpose/mission the team wants to achieve and then enumerate the problems to be encountered in service of an outcome
  • Problem-solving is still part of the work but the difference is we are not reacting to problems coming at us. 
  • The important role of Coach on TED. People are very able to tell you what they don't want but less able to articulate what they desire or really want. A Leader or leader as a coach can learn to help people get on the balcony and not be subject to persistent reactivity. 
  • Two different mindsets are explored in TED and 3 Vital Questions. The first is in a continuum of focus on problems. The second is an orientation towards outcomes supported by facilitation and enquiry to get at the creator essence in all of us. 
  • Not an easy step for many Leaders to become leaders as coaches, especially when we have been brought up in organisations were expertise is prised. 
  • 3 Vital questions are shared in a fable. 3 questions are supported by a subtext of questions to bring the TED framework to life. 
  • 1st Question: Where are you putting your focus? The subtext is whether your focus is on problems that evoke an inner state of anxiety or whether you are tapping into your passion and care that is outcome oriented. 
  • 2nd Question: How are you relating, which speaks to David’s first book TED. Are you relating from a problem mindset or an outcome mindset and from the archetype roles, which accompany, Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer or Creator, Challenger and Coach. 
  • 3rd Question: What actions are you taking with the subtext of in the moment problems or creative and generative actions in service of a bigger purpose. 
  • The work in teams and in organisational life is about awakening our inner observer. 
  • We have to be mindful that regression is part of the work-the question why can’t we do this all of the time requires compassion and an understanding that we are fallible human beings. 
  • Our neurology is organised in such a fashion that we are wired, not hard-wired, to keep ourselves safe. This explains why the DDT is live in all of us. 
  • Our work is to upgrade our human operating system
  • It is also worthy to note that the DDT roles are not always bad or unhelpful sometimes they are needed but the idea is not to stay in them. 
  • Conscious consciousness is required along with practice. 


Quotable Quotes: “We are always at a point of choice” “Our essence is as Creators” “When we pause, stop and breath, the whisper of Creator, Challenger and Coach can rise” “Value of model of DDT and TED is static depiction of a dynamic reality”  “Get to the balcony and not in subject to persistent reactivity” “Compassion is fuel for upgrading our Neurology” 


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. The Power of Ted,, 
  2. 3 Vital Questions,
  3. Subscribe to Free Friday Newsletter on both websites
  4. Books available in Print through Amazon, Audible and as an e-book on Kindle also on Amazon