Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is a Mastermind group?

Mastermind group is a form of peer coaching that has been the subject of increased interest among professionals in the preceding years. It has many similar counterparts in the business, academic, scientific, military and many other fields of industries. Some similar practices are: Brain trusts, business peer groups, authenticity circles, success teams, peer advisory groups. All these methods deal with bolstering the chances for success of an individual and the team as regards to their dreams, goals, projects, and achievements. To further differentiate mastermind groups from the aforementioned success methods above,it can be stated that mastermind groups are not any of the following:

  • Mastermind groups are not groups of people in a classroom studying lessons nor are they trainees in a training session. Mastermind groups emphasize the equality of members to each other and all members of a mastermind group share equally in the learning and teaching process. And though experts and teachers may be invited as guest speakers, the focus remains in the groups brainstorming together and in the mutual learning and teaching.
  • Mastermind groups do not pursue coaching as a main vocation for the members of the group. Facilitators may stand as guides to keep the session intact but the sharing process among members remain as the center of the group’s activity.
  • Although the establishment of networks are possible benefits from the brainstorming that happens in a mastermind group, they are not necessarily objectives.

In essence, mastermind group is a method of helping an individual and his group to achieve success by undergoing the learning, brainstorming, group support, and accountability processes that a mastermind group gives. The rationale of putting up a mastermind group together is that mental synergy can be obtained from the concerted mental efforts of all the participants in a mastermind group. The mastermind group is a conduit for the invisible force called the mastermind, which is the sum of the mental prowess of the mastermind group members plus the bonus of mental synergy. This is an idea of 19th century author Napoleon Hill from his book “Think and Grow Rich”.

Who participates in Mastermind groups and why?

People from a wide variety of skills may participate in a Mastermind group.Particular topics pertaining to a specific set of people, for example writing and authors, automotives and mechanics, business plans and CEOs can be candidates for mastermind groups. Professionals having similar skills and common goals but with their own unique set of attributes are the types that can usually put up a mastermind group. They do this to benefit from the variety of perspectives that can be obtained from the various participants each with unique backgrounds offering their ears and voices to anyone stating his current situation of business plans, goals, and problems. The probing, questioning and the feedbacks that follow these questions between the members, all contribute to the development of solutions to problems that the mastermind group handles. Diverse participants means diverse talents being contributed to the group, all for the good of everyone participating. Power goals can also be set up in a mastermind group which challenges members of the group to strive to accomplish something they can show, for the groups also instills accountability to every member and can exert pressure upon non-achieving, non-performing members of the group if they fail in fulfilling the set goals. Also, besides tackling real world problems and goals, the group also deals with the issue of mindsets and psyches, for it is the mind that will bring any plan into fruition. A healthy mind brings a healthy body.

How to carry out a Mastermind group session?

To carry out a Mastermind group session, a set of people, usually 3-6, are formed together and assigned a particular group niche. The niche is necessary to establish the group’s direction. These people are pre-screened by the one functioning as the facilitator, the group member who will moderate the discussions. He or she screens each possible member based on commitment level and how the other members already inside will approve of the possible member. Commitment is very important as it is the key for the group to function. Together with respect, compassion and concern, they constitute a powerful combination of values that is very powerful towards channeling a persons energy and efforts towards success – business or personal. One way to increase the commitment level of participants is to set up a fee. If the undertaking will cost someone a price, then the chances are, that he will give his best efforts in attending and participating in the Mastermind group’s undertakings.

For remote workers participating in mastermind group sessions, they can participate via phone, message boards, Google Hangouts, Facebook groups etc.

The Benefits of participating in Mastermind groups

Various personal as well as business benefits can be gained from participating in a mastermind group. Benefits such as increased confidence, sharpened skill sets, finding of solutions to problems can come to a participant through the close collaboration of peers volunteering insights and support to each other. Each member can see a certain problem in a different way and so shares their take on the matter differently. If members are honest enough to each other, they can pave the way to accomplishment and achievement by everyone in the team by enlightening each other about their particular situations. This honesty is applicable to both the probing and the answering between members.

The disadvantages that may arise in a Mastermind group

Mastermind groups can also fall into disuse if members do not stick to predefined values and guidelines that they should follow. Members could criticize fellow members too much and in so doing humiliate them. Humiliated members then would no longer be honest in their statements and so prevent proper implementations of solutions. Mutual respect can also be lacking and therefore mutual support – which is supposed to be a core asset of the mastermind group – will also lack. Mastermind groups are dependent on the practice of the values of respect, compassion, understanding and concern for each member, so that if there’s a lack in them, learning and development is severely hampered.

Best ways of practicing Mastermind group sessions

According to a research report authored by Frank Farnschlaeder entitled “On the role of Coaching and Coaches in Mastermind groups”, the element that factors in the most towards a mastermind group’s success is the existence of a firmly established group culture inside the mastermind group. One aspect of this group culture is the practice of the necessary values of respect, compassion, understanding and concern by each and every member consistently and cohesively. These values combined with the technical expertises of each member that is shared together, constitute the ideal group culture that a particular mastermind group should have. A group culture is inherent to any mastermind group, but the establishment of the ideal group culture should be taken into account in order to bring about the best Mastermind group meetings.

Teamreporter, a tool that increases the power of Mastermind groups

Inevitably, communication of ideas must also take place outside of the mastermind group, for they need to update each other on their respective statuses before the actual meeting of the group. In this regard Teamreporter does its best in delivering the needed communication channels outside of the mastermind group. Simple and easy to operate, Teamreporter updates each member of the team on everyone’s status via a web based email application. The interfaces of Teamreporter are very easy and simple that even novice users can easily adapt to its ways. There’s nothing fancy with the app so that it’s a breeze in the Internet traffic. Operation wise the initial setup is as follows:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Scheduling of team status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for team members

Teamreporter is a great aid for remote workers who cannot directly participate in mastermind group sessions.

Alternative ways to success besides Mastermind groups

For alternative practices to mastermind groups, other success methods being practiced by professionals are:

  • Success teams – very similar to mastermind groups but usually have a duration of 8 weeks whereas mastermind groups are continuous.
  • Peer advisory groups – a brainstorming group especially set up for Senior leaders in a company in their training to cope with different situations that may arise.
  • One on one coaching – a more expensive way of coaching, but with a more focused teaching and developing method to bring about the success of the individual.

Learn more about Teamreporter

Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)