The four elements required for teamwork to develop in an organization are:
1) High levels of two-way communication
2) Team members with diverse backgrounds
3) Common purpose/motivated by mission
4) Common goals/measurements
Element #1 is two-way communication. Understand that there is no teamwork in any organization without communication. When top managers are surveyed, 99% say that teams and teamwork are important to the success of their organization. Yet these same organizations have few, if any, successful teams. Teams, easy to say, but hard to do! Or is it?
While top managers "mouth" the need for teams and teamwork, their actions against these requirements indicate something different.
For a team to develop and be successful, everyone in the organization must have a copy of the playbook. The team playbook outlines the organization's goals (win the Super Bowl) and the activities (plays) that the team must execute to achieve the goals. The team has measurement systems (scoreboard) to track their progress. The quarterback and coaches (Leadership Team) are constantly communicating verbally and visually with the team and sub-team members (offensive line, defense, special teams, etc.). The team makes adjustments along the path to their goal. One can only imagine the results of a football play where the quarterback only communicated the "play call" to two team members instead of all ten in the huddle. Yet this is most often the norm in American business.
Ninety-eight percent of people in organizations want to take care of their customers, they want the company to be successful, they want to have jobs at the company in the future. To access these resources, an environment (culture) must be created where these 98% know they are valuable members of the team. Communication is the start of the process.
The question for top managers is: Do you want 6-8 managers trying to achieve the company's budget, plans and goals, or do you want the entire organization doing that?
Element #2 is team diversity. The most creative, best problem solving teams are those with team members that have diverse backgrounds. Diversity allows the composite team to view problems/opportunities from many angles or facets - a 360 degree/global view. Every person working on a problem sees the problem from "their angle," facet, or frame of reference. This angle is determined by the person's background, education, experiences, and culture (BEEC). These factors force a person into viewing the problem from that angle or frame of reference. If there are 10 people on a team (or think of it as 9 clones of the same person) and they all have similar BEEC factors, great or even good creativity or problem solutions will not occur because the problem/opportunity is not seen in its entirety. Will the cloned BEEC team come up with a solution, yes. Will it ultimately in time be viewed as a good solution, no.
Required elements #3 (common purpose / motivated by a mission) and #4 (common goals / measurements) are usually lumped together.
Everyone in the organization must have customer satisfaction as a common purpose and goal so all will pull in that direction. What things prevent everyone from pulling in the direction of customer satisfaction?
The lack of Lean "system thinking" is one of them. (We talked in our previous edition about how departmentalization inhibits common purpose and goals) We broadly define the system as the processes required from the time the customer places the order for a product or service, until the service is performed, or the product ships. System thinking requires that all decisions/improvements in an organization are made based on its impact on the 'system efficiency.' If a suggested improvement will improve department efficiency, but will negatively impact the system efficiency, it is not done.