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Monday, August 07, 2006

Teamwork 2 - How to Create a Great Team















In this second "Teamwork" article (see the first in HERE), Fortune's Jerry Useem makes the point that great teams start with me.

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These four men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

The A-Team went off the air in 1987 - still wanted by the government - but television has never produced a better blueprint for team building. The key elements of its effectiveness: a cigar-chomping master of disguise, an ace pilot, a devilishly handsome con man, a mechanic with a mohawk and an amazingly sweet van.

Those particulars might not translate to all business settings. But clear definition of roles is a hallmark of effective collaboration. So is small team size - though four is slightly below the optimal number, 4.6. And the presence of an outside threat - like imminent recapture by government forces - likewise correlates with high team cohesion.

The fact is, most of what you've read about teamwork is bunk. So here's a place to start: Tear down those treacly motivational posters of rowers rowing and pipers piping. Gather every recorded instance of John Madden calling someone a "team player." Cram it all into a dumpster and light the thing on fire. Then settle in to really think about what it means to be a team.

We're certainly not against the concept of teamwork. But that's the point: All the happy-sounding twaddle obscures the actual practice of it. And teamwork is a practice. Great teamwork is an outcome; you can only create the conditions for it to flourish. Like getting rich or falling in love, you cannot simply will it to happen.

We will go further and say: Teamwork is an individual skill. That happens to be the title of a book. Christopher Avery writes, "Becoming skilled at doing more with others may be the single most important thing you can do" to increase your value - regardless of your level of authority.

As work is increasingly broken down into team-sized increments, Avery's argument goes, blaming a "bad team" for one's difficulties is, by definition, a personal failure, since the very notion of teamwork implies a shared responsibility. You can't control other people's behavior, but you can control your own. Which means that there is an "I" in team after all. (Especially in France, where they spell it Equipe.)

Again, let the greats show the way. During a public appearance in 2000, an A-Team cast member was asked by a fan to name his favorite co-star. "Listen," Mr. T responded. "That's wrong for me to pick a favorite, because I'm a team player and we were a team. Remember, they say"--here it comes again--"there's no 'I' in team." No, but there is a "T." And pity the fool who forgets it.

Read the entire article HERE.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honored....Coco

August 08, 2006 8:47 AM

 

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