Presentation: Context Matters: Improving the Performance and Wellbeing of Teams

Track: Building High-Performing Teams

Location: Empire Complex, 7th fl.

Duration: 1:40pm - 2:30pm

Day of week: Wednesday

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Do you want to improve the performance and well-being of your team? In this session, you will learn about what makes teams high performing, and the role of context in building and nurturing a high-performing one. Understanding the impact of context on teams will help members and leaders understand what opportunities are available for improving their team’s performance and/or how to begin planning the mission, composition, tools and working conditions of a new team to set them up for success.

By the end of this session, we will have:

  • Compared different contexts that teams operate in, and how these affect team performance, based on the first-hand experiences of the presenters (external macro-shifts, business model dynamics, organizational structure shifts, domains of work, and the knowns/unknowns of problems that teams need to solve)
  • Unpacked some theory behind what defines high-performing teams (purpose, roles, safety, diversity and inclusion, goals and measuring success etc) 
  • Identified constant elements that teams require to be effective, irrespective of context (elements for alignment, coordination, and structure)
  • Gained an understanding of how context affects teams’ reliance on the above elements, and how teams can gain agency to intentionally shape the way that they operate that increases engagement and goal achievement

Speaker: Shawn Carney

Director of IT @Etsy

Shawn Carney is the Director of IT for Etsy, a platform that empowers creative entrepreneurs around the world. Shawn's two decades of leadership experience includes growing diverse, agile teams that deliver strategic business outcomes in fast-paced global environments. She previously served as Director of IT at Spotify and Director of Global Infrastructure at Universal Music Group and EMI Music. She is currently on the tech advisory board for Year Up, a national organization that provides professional career training to underprivileged young adults and helps them secure internships with top US companies.

Find Shawn Carney at

Speaker: Zofia Ciechowska

Director Strategy & Operations @Etsy

Zofia Ciechowska is the Director of Strategy & Operations at Etsy, where she manages the strategic planning and operations rhythm for the executive and senior management teams there.

Previously, Zofia was manager of the Strategy & Operations team at Spotify, where her mission was to design and run the company's strategic planning and execution model, Spotify Rhythm.

Zofia has a passion for managing and encapsulating organizational complexity. She does this by designing and running scalable agile systems for strategic planning and execution, and by coaching teams in responsive ways of working. In all that she does, she optimizes for continuous improvement, people over process, iterative decision-making, fairness and generosity.

In her spare time, you can find Zofia writing articles about music and art, dancing to techno, learning languages, stalking dogs on the NYC subway, eating bread, subverting the patriarchy, wearing glitter, or snorting at bad puns.

As a speaker, Zofia’s expertise includes:

Industries: org design, future of work, people operations, tech, apparel & fashion, social impact, media, music & entertainment

Topics: coaching agile teams, agile operations at scale, strategic planning, strategy and product development, customer experience, learning and development programs

Find Zofia Ciechowska at


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