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Team Building Work Without Walls

Jan 18, 2008
Summary: What if your team regularly had time they could spend together dreaming big dreams and pooling intellectual and intuitive resources (call it a game plan if you will) for the company to take the next step, to stir the sleeping giant, and to take a chance?

Imagine a basketball team taking to the court. Something strange has happened to this team. Somehow a potent force field has surrounded each player. The opposing team can get to these players, but their own teammates can't come within five feet.

When they get knocked down their teammates can't help them up. When they want to pass off a ball the force field makes it impossible to be close enough. When they want to get together to talk they have to yell to be heard and the opposing team learns their game plan.

This wouldn't be a very effective way to operate a basketball team, but this is often how businesses operate. Businesses erect walls that are both physical and invisible. Titles are assigned and employees are placed in a box and given very specific job descriptions.

Some employees like this segmented approach to business because everything is orderly and everyone knows what they are supposed to do.

What if the guy in box five just happens to have some background in something that the guy in box seven is working on? Remember the basketball force field? This is how is in business. Too often employees have understood the wall concept all too well and are quick to say, "That's not my job."

When it comes to team building a really good team begins with the understanding that as a team each member should be free to offer suggestions for making the game plan work. The team leader will call the plays in, but the skills of all members are used to develop a plan that makes the overall team successful.

What if your team regularly had time they could spend together dreaming big dreams and pooling intellectual and intuitive resources (call it a game plan if you will) for the company to take the next step, to stir the sleeping giant, and to take a chance?

Sometimes relying on a team this way involves risk, not every game will be won, but the ability to unleash corporate creativity for the benefit of business and personal satisfaction is a concept that inspires some of the most maverick new business to think outside the box.

Apple is an example of a company that thinks outside the box and delivers products that stir the imagination. Their success is due in part to team building principles that removes many walls so the techno-geeks are sharing space with the gadget guys and the marketing guys are learning what they can from the technical team.

The hard truth is team building MUST involve am interactive team. It cannot exist in a world where team members are used to saying, "But I don't do that."

Walls don't work in basketball and they don't work in business. In the words of former American President Ronald Reagan, "Tear down those walls."
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