Whether it was tee-ball in elementary school, or your latest group at work, we all have some experience with the concept of teamwork.
In theory, teams work together toward a shared objective. Earlier this year, the TV show Frozen Planet featured killer whales working in conjunction to hunt seals. Five or so whales swim side by side underneath ice blocks and use their tails to create massive waves that knock their prey into the water, making them easy victims. A lone whale wouldn’t have the strength to create such a wave.
In the same way, if you and your team plan to make a big splash, you need to find a way to work together and collaborate.
The problem with teams is that it is quite possible to lose sight of the one shared goal. It seems pretty crazy that this would happen, but sometimes we forget that we are collaborating to ‘win’ and instead we prioritize our own individual responsibilities.
The difference is so subtle that it’s hard to realize the team has become dysfunctional, especially for the players themselves. Each team has a playbook–a set of guidelines for how to interact; the breakdown happens when the players keep following the playbook even after the context has changed.
The result is a series of players working to achieve their own objective rather than keeping sight of the team’s objective. Everyone thinks they are working for the team, but in fact they are working for themselves.
Instead of holding meetings to help push the team closer to its objective, we start holding meetings to push our own individual agendas forward. It feels like teamwork, but it’s not.
A dynamic team can adjust to shifting priorities and realities as time goes by. Collaboration occurs when every touch point and interaction between people is helping both parties move the team closer to it’s goal.
Look back on your recent interactions with your teammates–did you both get something out of the meeting and did it push you closer to your goals? If not, tread carefully–wasted time is often disguised as ‘collaboration’.
Trust your team & work in conjunction.