Driving to effective teams…

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Buddha grabbed a handful of sand and let some of the sand through his fingers. The students leaned in and said “Do you want me to gather the grains that have fallen?” Buddha smiled and said “No cherish the ones that stayed.”

In considering the concept of teams there are many theories and there are many paths forward towards that goal. In the end it is as much those that stay as it is those that are gone. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the concepts in John Boyd’s OODA loops where you refine orientation to alter observation resulting in the end in a faster time to decisions.

You can make two or three bad fast decisions in the time you can make one slow perfect decision.

Of course sometimes you can’t quickly recover from a bad decision. Balancing the reality of good and bad decisions can be difficult. In basketball they call it the shooters mentality. Shake off the last bad shot the next time you are open. Otherwise if you miss one shot badly you will never shoot again. Everyone has bad days.

In building a team you have to have shooters and those willing to do the extra things required to get shooters open. The blocking and tackling as a football coach calls it. Simply put the jobs that have to be done in order to create an opening for a shooter or quarterback/running back since I mixed the sports analogies.

The thing that I find most interesting in teams is the reality of perception. Great teams argue amongst themselves. They disagree and they stand up to whiteboards and argue with each other. When it is all done they agree on the path and they go forward. The funny thing for me is that people perceive that as a bad team. You are arguing therefore you aren’t a good team.

Andersen’s team rules (borrowed from many other sources)

  1. Good teams argue
  2. Good teams have quality conversations
  3. Good teams have relationships beyond simply the day to day functioning of their working lives. They are connected to each other.
  4. Good teams approach situations with humor
  5. When situations require a serious attitude good teams approach the situation with a serious attitude.
  6. Good teams say hello.
  7. Good teams listen

Pick any one of these and search via Bing or Google and you will get books, blogs, podcasts and everything you could possibly need to further evaluate the sentence. Good teams listen not only within the team but to external members.

When I was a school teacher the principal used to put children new to our school in my room. Why? My room was a place that quickly absorbed new kids. By simply following those seven rules in the end you can create an effective team.

Moving beyond an effective team though requires a few more things.

We will talk about that at some point in the future…


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.