A Brain-Based Model for Workplace Collaboration

When staff understand what motivates them and what motivates others, they are better equipped to work together in productive ways. This activity can help teams explore what motivates them in the workplace.

Activity: SCARF as a model for staff collaboration

Article: SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others, by David Rock (Rock, 2008)

Schools in Chicago, Ill., and El Paso, Texas, have used this activity to build self-awareness and social-awareness among the school’s staff. SEL teams may find this activity helpful as they work toward building strong relationships that are responsive to each individual’s needs.

Participants collaborate on reading and interpreting an assigned article.

Time: approximately 60—90 minutes

  1. In groups of five, assign each group to read a section of the article. Everyone should read the introduction, then be assigned one additional section—either Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, or Fairness.
  2. Once everyone has read the introduction and their assigned section, each group member is allotted two to three minutes to give a summary of the information they read. Groups should use a timer to keep the activity within the time allowed.
  3. After everyone has given a summary, complete the SCARF Self-Assessment to determine which SCARF element is your primary driver.
  4. Discuss the following questions:
    • How do your results explain your interactions with the people around you?
    • What do you need to be successful at work? How can you ask for this?
    • How can you begin to be more aware of and responsive to the “drivers” of others?

Citations can be found in the School Guide Bibliography.

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