Real Teamwork and collaboration

Another unedited 5 minute blog post before I need to wake the kids:

Real teamwork and collaboration is aided and assisted by tools: wikis, basecamp, etc.
But those of you who’ve been on a few different teams will recognize that a team must have the following to be effective:

1. A shared sense of purpose – goals, people. Some people have a hard time figuring out which goals to set, but this is key here. If you don’t know how to set goals, learn. Get your team to help.
2. A mutual sense of trust and respect – without these real discussion, learning and problem solving are just too hard. When you respect and trust one another, disagreement is constructive debate, not politics. Its the ideas, not the people that are the focus. This is the key to the team being more than the sum of its parts.
3. The desire to virtuously pursue problems, and make them into opportunities, not crises.

In other words the organization must be dedicated to results, not fear. Management by fear is the dominant paradigm. It goes something like this. Everyone has their work to do. A mistake is trouble. Nobody wants to report that something was harder than they expected, that something was wrong, that the survey says they hate it, that there’s a big fat piece missing. So they fail – but it takes a LONG time to make that clear. And they fear.

Some signs that you’re on a “fearsome” team. Information hording. Bullies – people you never dare to contradict, question or admit that you don’t know something. Deadlines. Lots of busy tasks that don’t clearly add up to a whole. Nobody’s smiling. You fear the status update, or worse the status updates are something like ” i got these 3 things done” without any talk of goals.

The new Enterprise can’t afford such long learning cycles.
Next – the harder problem. How to convert a fear-based team to a truly collaborative team.


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