Have you ever wondered why some teams are able to achieve so much, while others struggle to get even the most basic tasks completed? I have, and the other day I was thinking, maybe it’s because most of us just don’t have teaming skills!?
What fungi have I consumed from my backyard you ponder? Allow me to clarificate (hold off leaving a teachers comment, I made that word up) ;)
Let’s start with some basic biology. Humans have two eyes, which are at the front of our faces, and are better at looking forward than to the sides or behind. We also have limbs, but again, these are better suited for frontal mechanical movement rather than reverse movement (for example, it’s easier to catch something while you are running forward with your arms forward than the reverse).
So with that in mind, most of us are internally wired to operate in a forward motion using our immediate articles (eyes, arms, legs, mind, etc). The problem is, in team based operations, you need to intentionally modify your behaviour. Unless you played some kind of team sport as a child (and continued this throughout your life), you probably have not developed the learned behaviour that is essential to operating as the part of a whole, rather than the whole itself.
And this is why I believe teams of people don’t always achieve team results. It’s what I’m calling “compound effort” or “compound effect”; the ability for a number of people to multiply their energy rather than dissipate it.
The analogy I use again harks back to my time on the field, where if you wanted to execute a play, you take 11 players, give them each an assignment and rely on collective force to achieve the objective. On to my top 5 elements of team effectiveness -
And finally, practice is the key. You’re not going to perfect your team skills unless you practice the techniques of high performance teams and try them out in simulated scenarios. That way, when you come to the real thing, it will be second nature.
And the funny thing, this applies to just about everything, especially software development. Too often you see teams who are given a tasks, which is just a reduction of the overall problem, and simply execute as an individual. Where is the interrelation? Where is the concentrated effort? It’s been dissipated by breaking a big tasks into smaller individual tasks, rather than a series of team tasks.
So start thinking team, and you’ll find those big problems toppling quicker than ever before.