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Why the Team Canvas has a lot to do with Positive Psychology

Team Canvas - Positive Psychologie

Whenever I am involved with positive psychology, I am inspired by the many scientific facts about human well-being. At the same time, I am impressed by how easily the approaches and concepts can be transferred to team, leadership and organisational development as well as to coaching. And this is why the Team Canvas fits perfectly with positive psychology and a resource and strength-oriented positive-leadership approach.

Martin Seligman (US psychologist and forefather of positive psychology) presents his revolutionary PERMA model in his book ‘Flourish’((Martin Seligman, Flourish, 2011)). The evidence-based and practical concept centers around a summary theory of well-being. Essentially, in order for a person to “flourish”, more positive than negative experiences and feelings are necessary – which of course makes complete sense!

Seligman defines five elements as the basis for this state of well-being and flourishing:

  • P Positive Emotions
  • E Commitment
  • R Relationships
  • M Meaning
  • A Accompolishment

And these are exactly the same key factors that come to the fore when working with the Team Canvas! Here follows a simplified explanation of what lies behind PERMA and where the connection becomes visible:

Positive emotions

Positive emotions are the cornerstone of Seligman’s theory. Without hesitation, I maintain that in workshops and beyond, there are many places where the emergence of positive emotions within the team is encouraged. In particular, when the team explores common strengths and qualities, discovers particular resources, focuses on what works, and develops a common purpose and team values.


Regular engagement with Team Canvas promotes individual and collective commitment. The team makes self-determined agreements and begins to strive for potential and opportunities for improvement. We also know that people flourish when they grow in a strength-oriented way and are allowed to commit to something “great”. All this can be visualised with the help of the Team Canvas. Ideally, the team reaches a flow state that makes them wholeheartedly tinker around with their future navigation system (= the Team Canvas) over and over again.


My favourite topic: human relationships!

“Very little of what is positive is lonely”, writes Martin Seligman.1

Successful relationships with colleagues and managers are probably the most important factor for people to feel good in their job; it is other people who make the difference. I will spare myself the enumeration of where in the Team Canvas relationship management comes to the fore. In short: everywhere!


According to Prof. Dr. Seligman1:

„Meaning in life comes from belonging to something and serving something that is bigger than self.”

What an amazing statement! At work, we often feel a sense of purpose when we are invited to add value to something “extraordinary” that will contribute to a “greater sense”. Serving others, for instance, is also often perceived as meaningful and fulfilling. Once you reached the HEART of the Team Canvas, all team members have the opportunity to develop a purpose – with passion and full commitment.

Accomplishment (attainment of goals, sense of achievement)

Who does not long for this?! Success can be achieved, among other things, through goal orientation as well as individual and collective performance. Making good decisions also plays a role. And this is exactly what the team practices in a workshop, for example by deciding which goals to pursue. In addition, the fact that individual success contributes to the entire team’s success is reiterated time and time again.

At the same time, “sustainability” also comes into play here: it is only when work on the Team Canvas does not end with the shrill beeping of the TimeTimer at the end of the initial workshop, that real “accomplishments” can be created for the team in the medium to long term!

So, why look at weaknesses in the workshop?

Is this not a bit out of place in the context of positive psychology? No! A healthy view of less successful things or weaknesses is part and parcel of positive psychology.

“No one can thrive without the negative”, Barbara Fredrickson,

Fredrickson is a US psychologist who, with the help of her groundbreaking findings, has had a decisive influence on the development of positive psychology.2

My conclusion:

I am 100% convinced! The Team Canvas is a highly effective tool to start a team-building or team-development process.

I look forward to your comments, feedback, questions or further suggestions! I can also support you with the implementation and facilitation of a Team Canvas workshop.

In part 1 of my article you can find more information about the Team Canvas as a workshop tool.

  1. Martin Seligman, Flourish, 2011 [] []
  2. Barbara L. Fredrickson, ‘Power of Good Feelings’, 2011 []

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