Teams and Timepieces

Posted by on March 23, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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A sundial is the timepiece that has the fewest number of moving parts. Which timepiece has the most moving parts?

Every business, no matter how big or small, is dependent on a team to achieve their goals, vision and mission statements. During the last few months, we have found a remarkable increase in the number of SME’s who have approached us to conduct team development programmes for them. I have actually just returned from one such a programme. The Management team of 7 Delegates, plus myself, all bunking in a guesthouse in Mpumalanga. The atmosphere was laidback (yes, we took time out to watch the game) yet incredibly stimulating. Their MD responded, “Excellent course, very informative and practical.”

The same can be said about timepieces. From the sundial, to a wristwatch, to Cuckoo clocks. All the pieces depend on each other to allow the timepiece to deliver on its value-promise, irrespective of the size and complexity of the enterprise.

The one-person business: Just like the sundial, it may appear that these businesses operate as single-person entities, but when we look closer the story is very different. How often do you see a sundial operate at night? Or on a cloudy day? Even though it has no moving parts, and consists of only one part, it cannot deliver on its promise without the sun. Single-person enterprises are not really that – they cannot function without their customers – an integral part of their team.

Hewlett-Packard was formed on the belief that people want to do a good job, a creative job, and that, if given the proper tools and support, they will do so. Relationships are important at HP; the company depends upon co-operation and a commitment to teamwork. They know that it takes an attitude of trust and understanding on the part of mangers towards their people and that employees must have faith in the motives and integrity of their peers, managers and the company itself.

The “group-based” business: These enterprises employ or consist of more than just the one individual. Two people up to several thousand are responsible for the efficient functioning of these business entities. Just like a wristwatch, clock, or virtually any other timepiece, these organisations depend heavily on the “teamness” and synchronization of all employees in all departments. If only one spring, wheel or gizmo in a timepiece fails, it renders the whole watch useless. If only one department / team in a business fails to deliver on its “promise” to the organization, then the company is doomed to fail.

Team, what “team”? Having delivered innovative and top quality personal and team development seminars throughout Southern Africa, it has become apparent that the word “team” and “workgroup” are often confused. Jon Katzenbach affirms that real teams are characterized by:

1. working towards a common goal

2. personal successes of team members are dependent on others

3. having an agreed and common approach

4. knowledge and skills of team members are complimentary

5. a small number of people.

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