I'd like to introduce a guest blogger, Jeff Lynn, Tribridge's Director of Integrations.
Some of you may have been part of formal training sessions to show the power of the team over heroic, solo efforts. Two variations of this are the “Desert Survival” and “Arctic Survival” exercises. The scenario is set up that you and your teammates have survived a plane crash in a remote location and inhospitable climate, far from any immediate rescue.
You have two decisions to make: stay with the plane and wait for rescue; or strike out in some direction to seek civilization. In the latter case you must decide which limited number of items from the plane you take with you – which are the most critical to improving your chances of survival. You may pick only five things to take from a list of twenty available items.
In the class this decision process is repeated twice: first you make the decisions on your own, and then you confer with your teammates, discuss, debate, and make a collective decision to stay or go, and which items to take. Then an expert in such survival situations debriefs the class, talking through real-life experiences, and the value of each possible item to promote survival – the “right” answer.
You calculate two scores: how well did you do in your own personal decisions, and then how well did the team do. Almost invariably the team’s score is higher than most of the individuals’, and so the central theme of the exercise has been reinforced – by bringing in different experiences and perspectives, teams can make better decisions than individuals.
These are good classroom exercises to be reminded of the power of the team, but then there are day-to-day ways to be reminded of it, and thankful for it.
I recently joined a high-performing team, and together we tackled a large, complex, important project for our company. The timing was tight, and the number of “moving parts” was great. We all said that we were juggling a lot of balls, that some were going to drop, and that we wanted to do everything we could to make sure the ones that dropped would be the least harmful to our venture.
We had just finished a successful sprint through “Phase 1” of this project. We were tired but pleased, took a deep breath and started looking forward to what was next – what we needed to do right away to stay on top of this effort and cement the early success.
As soon as I did that my heart sank. I realized that there was an important effort that needed to be finished in the next 48 hours, and we weren’t far enough along on it. This ball was dropping, and it was an important one. I went to sleep for a few hours and resolved to get up late that night and focus entirely on this deliverable.
I didn’t need to. During the course of the evening my teammates had stepped in, made good progress, and laid out a tight but do-able timeline for finishing the effort at the high level of quality it needed to be. I hadn’t asked them to do this; I didn’t need to, they just jumped in on their own, knew what needed to be done, and did it.
I had dropped a ball, my teammates caught it, so that together we would succeed.
Thank you all for that.