Generative Relationships – STAR

Reveal relationship patterns that create surprising value or dysfunction


The Generative Relationships method helps to understand how a group works together and what kind of positive changes can be made to remarkably improve results. The STAR compass is used to diagnose relationships and interaction in the group, and to prompt conversation on issues and progress. It can be used to analyse how the group dynamics can be made more or less productive.

How to use it

  • Improve the performance of a team, help a team become more self-managing and autonomous and enhance the purpose and identity of the group.
  • Help people step away from blaming individuals toward understanding the patterns of interaction.
  • Combine “diagnosis and treatment” without separating the planners from the doers.
  • Reduce frustration of people not happy with team dynamics and results.
  • Decide the composition and purpose of a new team or task force that will soon be formed.

How to apply it

  • Participants are invited to assess their working group or team in relation to the four attributes of the STAR compass.
    • S Separateness or diversity in perspective, expertise, and background among group members.
    • T Tuning (listening deeply, reflecting, and making sense of challenges together).
    • A Action opportunities (opportunities to act on ideas or innovate with group members).
    • R Reason to work together (clarity on why it is important to work together).

At tables, groups work individually to make initial assessments, then in small groups, then as a whole group (1-2-4-All).

  • A STAR compass graphic and pens for each individual.
  • A STAR compass graphic on a flip chart page for each group of four, and a large one for the whole group.
  • 5 minutes: Individually assess where the team is in regard to each of the four elements:
    • S How diverse are we as a group? Do we draw out our diverse perspectives?
    • T How well are we in tune with one another?
    • A How much do we act together?
    • R How important is it that we work together? Is the purpose clear?

How to adapt it

Link to other methodologies that focus on improving those points of the compass where the group scored low: Separateness (World Café); Tuning (Troika ConsultingHeard Seen Respected (HSR)); Action (25/10 Crowd Sourcing15% SolutionsOpen SpaceMin Specs); Reason (Five WhysWhat I Need From You (WINFY)).


  • Avoid making right or wrong judgments about where people assess the team.
  • Encourage team members to research, organize and act on their own solutions.
  • Finish the activity with at least one specific action by each participant.


Learn more from the person who created the STAR, Professor Brenda Zimmerman

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