Effective teamwork is powerful. We have all seen great sports teams and organizations rise above – not because of their individual skills, but their ability to align those skills in a direction that is superior to their opponent. However, effective teamwork does not come from ‘team building.’
In studying the essentials of producing great teams, we have found that great teams do not focus on team building. They focus on individual building — together. There is a difference. A focus on team building usually results in a temporary “feel good,” but lacks the individual accountability necessary for synergistic results. A commitment to individual building — together creates longer, more sustainable results.
What does this mean? It means that the Golden State Warriors and Chelsea F.C. do not do ‘team building’. They practice the skills that are required for them to be successful — together. That is, each person has a motivation to be their best AND to leverage the best from each other. Team building is a by-product of ‘practicing’ on and off the field.
So what do we need to practice? Achieving great results collectively requires each individual to assess critical skills and then practice like mad. Shoot penalty kicks on repeat, tune up your own listening skills, or intensively train self-confidence, trust, and respect. It is about bringing the whole player to the field.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’ve had the good fortune to visit several times to bring Odyssey Teams‘ Helping Hands (building prosthetic hands) and Life Cycles (where you will build a bike for children) teambuilding programs. This time, I wanted to see the city by foot. I started running down the Vltava river through the city and pushed the pace expecting to turn around at four miles to log a total of eight miles. True to my other running experiences while traveling, I ‘stumbled’ upon sights and scenes I never would have otherwise experienced. This was a tempo run – trying to keep a fast, consistent pace of seven minutes per mile. As I neared the four-mile mark I began looking for a bridge to cross to the other side of the Vltava for my return. At about 4.2 miles I found a bridge, crossed over and began running again. My pace was fast and consistent and I was enjoying the view but ready to be done with the 8 miles holding such a pace. At seven miles, I began to realize that I did not recognize any of the same sights I had seen running down the river. I should have. At 8 miles, it became obvious that I was definitely not back where I had started. I was confused. To make it more confusing, for the first time since I crossed over the river, I realized I was still running downstream. I was completely baffled and somewhat concerned with the possibility of being eight miles from where I had started with dinner plans in forty minutes. I pulled out my phone and looked at the GPS map and noticed that I was, in fact on the same side of the river as when I started – 8.2 miles DOWNSTREAM.
It’s springtime! Time to grow. I always flash back to being a kid visiting my grandparents in the central Valley of California. My grandfather owned a Mobil gas station and would always have beautiful bulbs in bloom. He, like so many of the older generation worked so hard – up at 4am and back to fall asleep in his chair as the grandkids buzzed around him at about 7pm. But he always made time to get his hands muddy – tilling the soil, planting bulbs and seeds, pulling weeds and tending to these little islands in the sea of his “work” – at his “service station”.
It’s so important that we find and maintain these islands in our work to grow something beyond work. We need to carve time to get our hands dirty and make something a bit nicer. I’m sure it couldn’t have been measured in terms of the beautiful flowerbeds adding to the bottom-line of his business. But he didn’t do it for that reason anyway.
So much of Odyssey‘s work, I think, is with this same spirit. Building bikes for kids in our Life Cycles program, prosthetic hands in the Helping Hands project and others.
My gramps always made things special in places where you wouldn’t expect them to be. He is still doing that at 97 years old, just now it’s in the form of the surprising presence he gives people when in his company, like during my visit yesterday.
Thank you Grandpa. Honoring you in everyway that Odyssey is, and I aim to be.
Odyssey Teams partnered with Rotarians in Bangalore Peenya India for their annual Mega Jaipur Limb Camp, which is going on now. On day two of camp, there have been 586 beneficiaries and the distribution is as follows: 211 Limbs, 227 Calipers, 128 Crutches, and 20 LN-4 Prosthetic Hands. Rotary Bangalore Peenya was chartered in 1983 with a group of 24 dedicated Rotarians as chartered members with an objective of implementing service projects. LN-4 Prosthetic Hands, a joint project of RI Dist 5160 and 5110, have been introduced for the first time this year. This hand can enable beneficiaries to hold a glass, eat with a spoon, and even write with a pen or control a steering wheel. 100 LN-4 Prosthetic Hands were provided for this camp.
The Mission continues…
The Playhouse Challenge is flat out fun! I just delivered our Playhouse Challenge to a hundred Shell employees in Edmonton Canada. This was the fourth, quarterly leadership development program that we’ve delivered with them and it sure was fun. The first quarter we coupled our Helping Hands program with modules from FISH. The second quarter it was Life Cycles, building bikes for children, the third was the Board Meeting, which yielded 33 skateboards for a local youth agency with a skate park in their back yard. Lastly, it was ten Playhouses that were delivered to ten families with kids who were long time patients of the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Leadership concepts brought to life through Shell’s commitment to their community. I loved the year-long process and finishing with these super cute Playhouses.
The 24-hour Work Clock
I was with a big International client yesterday interviewing him about the challenges his team of engineers face and how we were going to create a powerful forum for them to talk about those challenges during the Helping Hands program.
One of the things that struck me after he described his 20-hour workdays, sleeping only four hours per night was the concept of the 24-hour work clock. With the enormous contribution that APAC (Asia-Pacific) has on engineering, leaders of large US corporations have learned that while they can’t ask any one person to work 24 hours per day, they have learned that efficiency and productivity can be improved by focusing on the productive times (daylight) in different time zones. This allows an organization to have a fresh mind pounding out of ideas and solutions 24-hours per day.
I often struggle with the question of whether Odyssey’s work really makes a difference on the bottom line of business. It’s a cynical tension inside of me. To make the question harder to answer, I am also deeply skeptical of metrics that attempt to link soft-skills training or change in behavioral traits to bottom-line business results.
There is a quote that loosely says: “don’t try to measure things that don’t lend themselves well to measurement”. I like that, but still I struggle. It sure would be nice to have pure, non-biased, scientific proof.
It seems that many business leaders share in the desire for proof and many never call or work with us because they can’t see a black and white link on their investment. When they ARE bold enough to call and ask the question, we can share a response that Lain gave one day: “If you have a metric that you used to warrant calling us, we can use that same metric to determine if it worked”.
On October 26th Corproem (Corporacion Red de Promatoras Empresariales Microfinancieras), and GE united in Colombia to assemble 30 prosthetic hands from Odyssey’s Build-a-Hand Kits. Through the joining of Corproem, LN-4 Foundation, and Rotary, 30 GM executives got together to build the LN-4 Prosthetic Hands, which were then distributed to recipients in Colombia. Odyssey Teams would like to thank Luis Norberto Lopez G. and
Rotary Colombia for making this event happen.
“It is the first time that this wonderful activity has been developed in Colombia, besides undoubtedly strengthening teamwork, it sensitizes and allows us to dispose of armed prostheses and more volunteers for future campaigns prosthesis delivery. Besides the experience with the GE executives, it was very rewarding for the team Corproem to support the activity because it is the first link of an humanitarian work that returns the autonomy and dignity of so many people in need around the world. Many thanks to GE executives especially to Juliana Prieto and Ana Luisa Perez coordinators of so laudable an initiative for convening us as support in developing this altruistic and transcendental activity.” ~ Luis Norberto
You are a gem, Nancy. You get it.
It’s just brutal to hear another of the dozens of “Team Building” companies who copied our invention of the bike-building program has left a foul flavor after delivering their version of it. Unfortunately, when managers, VP’s, and owners of teams look for “Team Building” there is the risk that they will do an “activity” that has nothing to do with who they are, what they do or where they are going. There are too many “Team Building” companies that don’t build teams.
See recent blog on this.
There is incredible power in the use of metaphors and business simulations as a way of rustling up powerful discussions (and actions) specifically related to the effectiveness of a team, but it has to come from a commitment to training and the use of “activities” as a development process. It has to connect with who they are, what they do, and where they are going, or it is a waste of time and money.
Dealing with Stress? Pressure? Getting the chip to the end-user with a commitment to quality? Dependence on others? Collaboration?
NetApp’s Corporate Culture is strengthened through Odyssey’s Helping Hands Program!
On November 14th, NetApp participated in Odyssey’s Helping Hands program in West Virginia. The philanthropic workshop helped “participants to shift perspective, build new connections with employees with whom they do not regularly work, identify the strengths and skills of their colleagues, and understand how as individuals, and as NetApp, they have an impact on our world.” Has your company had a teambuilding experience that was that impactful lately?
Check out the full story below: