by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“A game is not won until it is lost,” David Pleat, Soccer Player and Manager.


Back at the end of the 2016-17 football season, when the New England Patriots was victorious over the Atlanta Falcons, we reviewed the Patriots’ game strategy. Again, at the beginning of the current 2017-18 season, we reviewed its likely team strategy; if it was going to repeat its success. This included a requirement for a top to bottom review that would put it on an even better path because likely Superbowl contenders would step-up their game, too. It would require a review of its entire game strategy and tactics, its team, its coaching staff, and its leadership. No stone should be left unturned.

 

There is no doubt that so many companies or organizations that experience a successful year, are inclined to become complacent and not carry out that top to bottom review of their forthcoming strategy and operational tactics, their people organization, and their entire leadership team every year. Too often they assume that everything will be okay – they are invincible. NOTE: They are required to audit their financial health every year, especially if they are a public organization, because they are required to do so.

 

In the Patriots’ case, led by an astute and successful businessman, Robert K. Kraft, it knew that going for its third Superbowl victory in four years would be especially challenging. Its super quarterback, Tom Brady, would be 40 years old and was destined to not to play in the team’s first three games of the season owing to a “Deflategate” disciplinary penalty. Its core team was not getting any younger. It also had to learn the lessons of their potential defeat at the hands of the Falcons a year earlier; especially based upon the first half of that February 2017 Superbowl game.

 

Almost by the book, the team stumbled without Brady at the beginning of its 2017-18 season by losing two out of three games: its tactics failed. However, once he returned, it settled into its game-operational-tactical mode for the rest of its scheduled season: slipping up only once more against the Miami Dolphins – maybe the warmth and sunshine were too much for players after competing in the ice and snow of New England J With its gameplan, talent and team play, it rose to the top of its division 13-3. Now it had to play a surging Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC division championship.

 

It was about to face a really tough competitor. It needed a top-notch Division championship strategy. A monkey-wrench was thrown into its gameplan days before, when Brady received a bad thumb injury – during game practice – on his throwing hand. Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ coach, had to be at his coaching best in the circumstances. You could see him hurriedly going through his tactical gameplan as the game quickly swung against the Patriots in the first half. Did he have back-up contingencies? Was he expecting the dominating performance by the Jaguars for much of the first two quarters? At least his team pulled back the score to a deficit of 14-10 before half time – within striking distance.

 

Although Jacksonville really turned-on the play screws during that first half, with its tremendous talent, athleticism and running-of-the ball; the team displayed one potential flaw…much the same way that the Falcons did in their defeat nearly 12 months earlier.  The Jaguars’ coach should have dialed-down the amount of heroic dancing by individuals every time his players made a winning play. As a team, it gave the appearance that “the game was won before it was lost.”  It made it appear that the Jaguar team was built on a bunch of immature, individual talent rather than strong team play.

 

Fortunately the Patriots had experienced such a model with the Falcons a year earlier and it motivated its players to draw more closely together tactically as a team. You could spot Brady on the sidelines pacing in front of his offensive team-members to rally them once more. Surely and steadily the Patriots started to assert themselves on the game increasingly toward the end of the first half, but quite relentlessly in the second half.  This forced the Jaguars to make increasing numbers of tactical mistakes and fouls. Some of its players also became worn-out; evidenced by players leaving with “injuries” before the game was over…likely psychological injuries?

 

The Patriots eventually won 24-20. It was a display once more of tactical teamwork over individual showmanship. Individual Patriot players did not seem to hog the limelight and Brady was the first to attribute the win to his team mates rather than anything he had done. He praised how they closed ranks and refused to be beaten, even if their star receiver, Rob Gronkowski, had to leave the field during the first half owing to a suspected head injury. A Jaguar player was severely penalized for his helmet attack with a 15 yard penalty.

 

The Falcons didn’t fare quite as well this year because they were knocked out by the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional play-offs. And so, on the same day as the Patriot-Jaguar game, the Eagles were left to rout its NFC champion-ship competitor – the Minnesota Vikings – 38-7. Now the scene was set for the 52nd Superbowl in early February, 2018. Who would prevail? Both sides appear to believe in teamwork. So would it be strategy, tactics, team talent, team leadership or coaching superiority – or even Mother-luck – that would produce the next Superbowl champs? One big thing the Patriots would have to handle before getting there would be the torrent of negative slights and innuendo by sports writers, who either hated a successful team or were just trying to ginny-up interest before this critical game.

 

It’s amazing how successful teams become pariahs, so their leaders need to develop a pre-Superbowl strategy to help their players cope with the negative onslaught. Belichick would need to call on every coaching strategy and operational tactic to help carry his team through. Other than die-hard Patriot fans, the rest of the world would be rooting against his team. The Superbowl day arrived and the leadership test began – Strategy or game tactics, or both?

 

Once the game was underway, the Eagles started with a devastating drive for goal. It seemed to prick the Patriots’ self-confidence of assuming they would prevail. The Eagles were relentless, as were the Jaguars and Falcons in prior decisive games, although clues about the Patriots lack of tactical readiness showed in missing a field goal and touchdown conversion early on – 4 points lost. It was followed by Brady fumbling a breakaway run. And the Eagles weren’t giving up as they executed their tactical plays brilliantly. They appeared more mentally prepared with their players on a mission.

 

Although the Patriots threatened in the second half to pull it out of the bag with a score of 33-32, they weren’t sufficiently equipped to turn a game for the third time – ala the Falcons last year and the Jaguars this year – of relentless competitive pressure. Even though the Eagles showed signs early on of individual showmanship; that gradually disappeared as the Patriots fought back and forced them into playing as a team.  And so the Eagles strategy of extra fitness, skill and relentless pressure prevailed 41-33.

 

The Eagles’ quarterback, Nick Foles, also showed a lot of leadership with many successful throws and coolness under pressure. Brady almost produced magic at the end with a tremendous Hail-Mary throw but the Eagles were ready to thwart him. Clearly it requires both a winning strategy and operational tactics to win a decisive situation.

 

To find out more about building a strategic and tactical pathway, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“What is our optimum requirement; so as to increase organization performance?” Question posed by company CEO who was aiming to grow from a relatively small enterprise into a mid-sized business.    

 

Rare occasions like this one occur when we produce two consecutive articles devoted to the same enlightened leadership phase or topic: and Decision Clarity is one of them. It seemed so natural to break our last decision-clarity topic into segments A & B. ‘A’ uncovered the primary solution to the above CEO question by means of option solving. Now ‘B’ comes into play, also using option solving, as a way of fleshing-out optimum derivatives of this CEO-executive group’s performance enhancing dilemma..

 

As our CEO group zeroed-in on Option D – Develop our Leadership Teams at Every Level within question ‘A’, it decided to peel-the-onion and seek an option-subset to their

earlier conclusion. Clearly the group hoped option solving would help them understand its next steps by repeating the same cycle. A fresh set of sub-options would emerge using Option D as their new issue on which to base their next rational question.

 

Above you can now view the group’s subsequent pictogram focusing on the question inspired by Option D:

»What is our optimum approach toward enhancing  organizat-ional performance with Option D – Develop our leadership teams at every level; considering 1) their current readiness to lead, 2) our current leadership talent, 3) potential leaders at other levels, and 4) our most cost-effective approach?

 

 Two new ‘bookends’ were now apparent – ‘Just allow natural leaders to rise to the top’ – considered too happenstance. And at the other end – ‘Clean house and bring in a fresh leader team’ – with the likely loss of critical institutional knowledge. By bringing these two bookends to bear, it stimulated this group of CEOs-executives to concur on six plausible sub-options, namely:

 

» Bring in an outside training firm.

» Adopt in-house ‘In-Team Discovery;’ where leaders learn from each other over a series of regular forums.

» Build compelling vision with leader team and implement.

» Make leaders aware of their distinctive role at every level.

» Monthly leadership book reading plus team discussion of content.

» Adopt the 5 phase Enlightened Leadership approach – Decision Clarity, Pathfinding, People Motivation, Team-work and Momentum Building.

 

Once again, with the group’s pictogram complete – pictures nudge our innovative, intuitive minds into top gear – it can now resort to emotional distancing (ED) for the second time. On this occasion, it only needed an hour to reflect and discuss other issues before returning to their pictogram and making their anonymous vote – again to avoid herd input. Pretty well across the board participants opted for Option F- Adopt the 5 phase Enlightened Leadership (EL) approach.

 

In light of Leadership Solutions many articles about these 5 phases, it was agreed, that, short of a future intended book, respective company leadership teams could be exposed to a selected range of existing EL articles. Those teams could then circulate them among colleagues, discuss them, and then determine how to apply the content to their own organization’s current and future intentions. Maybe they could make a game out of it by comparing EL to our traditional management approaches? Games have a wonderful way of encouraging people to absorb fresh ideas.

 

There is no doubt that, if they apply these EL principles, models and concepts properly, people engagement  will rise quickly in some instances and more steadily in others – as determined by the caliber of their leader team. Productivity will clearly rise and their staff will more willingly contribute as much as they are able. All of this will happen without having to invest oodles of money or incentivizing people with heavy individual bonuses. Such is a form of coercion by declaring to their people, if you produce X, then we’ll give you Y; otherwise known as extrinsic motivation or carrot-and-stick.

 

One of OS’s many advantages is that it provides a sound framework with seven guiding principles, which will ultimately produce an actionable outcome. Hence it allows a group of CEOs or executives, or teams at any level, to observe where each other is coming from. From this they can share value and insights through common reference points.

 

With the EL approach, leadership teams will wait until their more highly or intrinsically motivated people have made a significant contribution in a specific key area. THEN and only then will they be recognized with a well-regarded reward or recognition…on the basis, now you have done W, we will reward you with Z. In other words, the rewards or recognition are not mentioned until after something important has been accomplished. Do-and-then-be-recognized is like a reverse on carrot-and-stick; where stick in this instance is a worthy organization or team challenge.

 

Intrinsic motivation is much less expensive, is much more natural, and is considerably more sustainable. Extrinsic motivation disappears the moment the carrot is paid or withdrawn, and then people wait for the next carrot – rather like Pavlov’s well-known pigeon experiment. And the carrots get ever more expensive, eating away at company profits and adding to product or service pricing – an ever-increasing pressure on the organization’s existence. Intrinsic motivation is the EL approach versus the traditional 20th-century management one.

 

Referring back to that well-regarded reward a couple of paragraphs ago: while money is a default reward mode, people also respond well to some extra-time off, a convivial lunch, a note of special thanks with a restaurant voucher, or a basket of food or bouquet of flowers with a sincere thank-you note. There’s everything to be gained by not repeating the exact same reward every time, otherwise it quickly becomes an expectation rather than a pleasant surprise…mix it up a little.

 

With option solving parts A &B, we have not only solved a CEO’s headline issue in terms of getting greater perform-ance from his organization (A), but we’ve also put him on an optimum track for doing just that (B). We have introduced him to an enlightened approach, which will get his people to maximize their efforts and therefore bring performance levels like he or she has never seen before.

      

To learn more about Option Solving and decision-making, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

 by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“What is our optimum requirement to increase our organization performance?” Question posed by company CEO who was aiming to grow from a relatively small enterprise into a mid-sized business.    

 

    He was sitting in the midst of about 20 other CEOs-senior executives. Clearly he was hoping they would share their group wisdom to enlighten his thinking. How many conventional CEO or executive forums have you attended, where you had hoped to reap a few pearls of wisdom? Too often, however, it was likely you weren’t able to optimize on the opportunity because you didn’t have a common framework or reference points with which you could compare notes.  Good advice often goes out of the window because we’re not given a metaphor – or mind-picture – to help us fully assimilate it.

Your writer recently attended a major soccer game in Europe. The crowd was able to appreciate the ebbs and flows, individual and team performance, as well as the final outcome – which was a tie or “draw” in European parlance – because everyone was working within the same framework, with the same rules and with the same view of play. Most CEOs or executives from various organizations don’t have that possibility, because they’re all working within different markets, with different products or services; that is, they’re all using a somewhat different frame of reference. However, they do have similar leadership issues; although even those are governed differences in relative size or exactly where their enterprises are within their growth cycle. In sports, you tend to have similar standard teams playing each other in similar grade leagues.

One constant in the business world, is that so many companies utilize the traditional command-and-control mode of planning, organizing, directing and controlling. Our CEO, quoted at the outset, was attempting to lift himself out of that box, along with his other forum participants. Instead, they aimed to set their sights on entertaining enlightened leadership possibilities with its world of envisioning, positioning, engaging and collaborating. It advocates five phases of interlinked activity, namely – Decision Clarity, Pathfinding, People Motivation, Teamwork, and Momentum Building. Current readers have already been introduced to these five phases over time and so they will be familiar with the many benefits of utilizing them. In particular, you gain much higher levels of people engagement for the exact same investment.

As you can see, this article is devoted to Phase 1- Decision Clarity and therefore re-introduces you to its more advanced decision-making approach called Option Solving (OS). OS brings many powerful advantages to CEOs and senior executives, especially in their desire to upgrade organizational performance, as indicated at the outset. It offers a more optimal decision-making approach than your competitors right out of the gate, because they’re still sticking with either ad hoc or way-more rational, analytical approaches – usually resulting in either-or outcomes.  OS offers a choice, out of a range of smart possibilities within your market or company, so you already have one considerable leg up.

One of OS’s many advantages is that it provides a sound framework with seven guiding principles, which will ultimately produce an actionable outcome. Hence it gives a group of CEOs or executives, or teams at any level, a common frame where each other is coming from. From this they can share value and insights through common reference points.

 

      Now take a look at the above option solving pictogram, which shows you the initial, rational question he and his CEO-executive cohorts developed. It also includes some key considerations:

»What is our optimum requirement to increase our organization performance to another level; considering 1) varying ages of staff, 2) cost of changes, 3) our marketplace, and 4) gaining the buy-in of our workforce?

Note the four considerations which are key to providing our intuitive minds the context from which an effective conclusion can reveal itself. The group did, in fact, produce more considerations, but deliberately stuck with these four primary ones to minimize complexity.

Option solving then guided them to produce two extremely unlikely “bookends;” namely – ‘Make no changes’ and‘Completely change every process.’ Being the most unlikely of choices, they spurred fertile, intuitive minds into conjuring-up at least 5 plausible options. They were able to pinpoint more than 5, but this is the minimum number prescribed within OS to adequately challenge our often dormant innovative minds to perceive an optimal range of options. 

You can now spot the six options they developed as inspired by the original rational question. So let’s list them here for clarity:

» Hire a consultant, educator in motivation techniques.

» Create stronger teams within the company.

» Implement performance reviews.

» Develop our leadership teams at every level.

» Survey our employees to see what they think is important.

» Control our costs more closely.

 Once their pictogram choices were clear, they were encouraged to take a break for some emotional distancing (ED). ED permits them to shut their pictogram away for an hour, two hours or several hours – including sleeping-on-it – and focus on something quite different. It creates a natural break for devoting some time for another task or issue. Meanwhile, their intuitive minds subconsciously cogitate over their pictogram – the picture makes it more memorable – and relate it to their life’s experiences and decisions. Just like that, their mind starts crystallizing around the most likely option.

When they returned as a group, they quickly reacquainted themselves with their pictogram and were invited to anony-mously disclose their decision-option: anonymity was requested so that “group think” wouldn’t occur. In this instance, the majority opted for Option D – Develop our leadership teams at every level. They actually saw leadership as the key ingredient. Now they were in a position to either put together an action initiative – consisting of what, how, who, when, and where (to go for allies) – OR ‘Peel the Onion’ for revealing sub-options to unearth an optimal approach to Option D.

In fact, they chose the latter course and so we will follow-through on that in two weeks time to see where they went with this revelation. By this time you will have noted that they asked the appropriate, all encompassing original question, they dismissed least likely options, and chose their optimal possibility from a range of interesting options. They weren’t trapped into either-or – not a good judgmental situation to be in for important decisions unless they’re fairly obvious.

  So next time around, we’ll delve into Option D much more and determine what options lie behind “Taking this executive’s desire to increase his organization’s performance to another level: through developing his leadership teams at every level.” By reviewing a range of plausible options, we’re more likely to be satisfied that we’ve flushed out our optimal option or pathway, rather than being hemmed-in by either-or. The latter is not a particularly good place to be because it limits creativity and fresh alternatives.

To learn more about Option Solving and decision-making, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Collaboration by employees across different departments is essential but seldom easy…For companies having employees labor in isolation can be costly.” Article by Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal, November 2017.

 


Although collaboration makes enormous sense, how do we break our individualistic, solitary work habit that we’ve fostered over the past 100 years? Before the hey-day of the industrial revolution – early 1900s and beyond – things were somewhat different. Workers toiled in fields with their labor-songs and household staff worked in teams in kitchens or living room areas. This meant, by and large, they could enjoy each others company and team-up to take care of their chores.

 

Frederick Taylor and his industrial efficiency movement changed all that during the early 1900s. He inspired industrial barons to focus on assembly lines, where workers were encouraged to compete against themselves and others in the pursuit of optimum efficiency. Talking to others, other than at meager breaks, was discouraged. Henry Ford was quite open about his desire to just employ pairs-of-hands rather than people.

 

We still come across some of this assembly line mentality in today’s work environment, even more so in computer programming or trading shops, or administrative pools, where everyone sits in conformity in front of their screens. However, there’s a break-in-the-mold software house that swears-by utilizing programmers in pairs. Its proprietor, Rich Sheridan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, points out the benefits: which include projects always being completed on time, participants not needing to work extra hours, staff always enjoying uninterrupted vacations, and the prospect of learning a lot from each other. You can bet that the return on investment of pairing people together far outweighs the traditional individual efficiency approach. You can probably speculate as to why, as you work your way through this article.

 

In addition to the many gains indicated so far, work-pairing brings far greater perceived resiliency in difficult situations; which are why police, pilots, surgeons and special forces teams work in pairs. Since two heads are arguably better than one, pairs can watch out for each other, reinforce each other, and fill-the-gap when one partner has a personal emergency. So work-pairing is a great way to build sustained momentum, especially with younger generations who are not hidebound by traditional industrial age, efficiency thinking.

 

Another great way to build momentum, when dealing with more expansive projects, is to form a team of 6-7 people – even more so when they can be made cross-functional. Six to seven people has proven to be the optimum, effective team size many times over. More members than this and cohesion, communication ties and overall commitment begin to break down. Even larger sports teams associated with football, soccer or baseball break down into smaller offensive or defensive clusters. Other teams like basketball or ice hockey meet the smaller standard when you think about it.

 

Working with these larger 6-7 teams, you can observe participants building a common purpose, strategy and execution framework that will encourage bonding and a unify focus on tangible outcomes. Ideally, they collaborate to prioritize key issues that need to be solved for accomplishing their mission. Then they determine the three most crucial ones for making decisive progress. At this point, they can pair-up or form a threesome – where an odd number is apparent – and each pair picks one of their three top priorities so all three are covered. Hopefully these top priorities are significant enough that they will have some impact on lower order priorities, too.

 

Once a team of 6-7, always a team of 6-7, until its more expansive project is accomplished. So, even though they break-off into pairings or threesomes, they regularly come together to share progress experiences until the project is completed. That way, when the full-team meets, it can offer suggestions or insights toward each pair’s challenges. One reality of teamwork is that: ‘No team can move forward faster than its slowest member.’ So, by breaking it up into pairs, it can help offset this challenge: particularly if your slower member is paired with the most potentially capable and/or patient person available.

 

Consider now some of the key points associated with collaboration, as raised in the quoted WSJ article:

» Silos can prevent companies from providing good service or making products customers say they want.

     » Enterprises are trying to foster collaboration to help them react more quickly to market changes.

» Many staff say their projects and designs have grown more innovative and broader in scope due to closer co-operation.

» Working across many disciplines at the same time, enables organizations to tackle issues they otherwise wouldn’t have attempted.

» Projects are more likely to be rolled out on time.

 » Teaming staff with diverse backgrounds, tends to produce better ideas and decisions.

 

     Looking through this WSJ article, you will also find several references to the use of team tools to enable participants to better understand each other’s communication and learning styles. Your writer has demonstrated the remarkable value of his own Mercury Communication Preference Survey in enabling team members to collaborate in ways they didn’t think were possible before. Making best use of such tools can require a little patience at the outset, but pay dividends in the long run.  

 

If need be, start with a few baby steps in collaboration. Pair some of your most promising people together to tackle some of your more challenging projects or issues. Even so, try to avoid putting strong likes together, since they are likely to become frustrated with each other over time. Better to put dissimilar people together in pairs, where they can benefit from each other’s complementary talents. Now you will witness much greater momentum across your enterprise.

 

As you see the results emerge, so you will gain the courage to go further and expand the pairing-principle to many other organization domains. Perhaps we can finally put that deep-seated industrial age thinking behind us?

 

To learn more about “building momentum,” talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.

“A team comprises 6 – no more than 7- people who join together to accomplish a common, highly-prized objective that is important to all of them and their organization. A successful action team is usually two.”

    

 

Leaves were abundant a couple of months back – at Fall’s first sign – on the sidewalks of Washington Square Park, New York. Yes and you guessed right: this article was drafted at that time, although its contents are still quite pertinent. Those leaves are still the daily clean-up chore for a gaggle of six park-workers; probably people being rehabilitated toward a more productive life. Your writer noted the clean-up progress every-other-day as he took an early morning, fast walk around the park’s perimeter sidewalk – he estimates somewhere around a half-mile per lap. He calls it his local gymnasium!

 

On that memorable morning, he noticed unattended swathes of leaves on the park’s north side, which were creating a slippery mess due to recent rainfall. But on the south side, near the park’s administrative offices, surprise-surprise, the sidewalk was totally shipshape.

 

Needless to say, he bumped into the group of six clean-up ladies, adorned in their bright green t-shirts, where he congratulated them on their job well-done on the south side. They smiled with pride, which gave him the opportunity to enquire about the other three sides. “Oh, yes!” they chorused. “We will!” Two days later, on his alternate day walk, everything was spic-and-span on all sides.

 

What is the moral of this everyday story? Those other three sidewalks had been looking pretty neglected over the prior ten days, which served as an extra prod for him to nudge those ladies that particular morning. It seemed, only by shedding light on the issue, were those lovely ladies going to rise to the challenge. No doubt their supervisor was stuck in front of his-her computer screen; filling out the stats on the number of leaves that fell, the ratio of dry leaves to wet ones, how many staffers refused to pick up a broom, and how many office staff refused to speak with street staff! All vitally important management information!

 

Your writer has been reflecting on this park clean-up matter ever since.  As he put his drafting-pen to paper, to draw attention to this particular teamwork issue, he couldn’t help thinking about how this seeming lack of initiative by those ladies is one key emblematic issue of organization management: where staff appear insufficiently engaged or empowered to take obvious steps. He started to think about alternative approaches. How often do you experience something similar within your organization?

 

Our next question usually is: “What can we do about it?” And that’s where putting on that Park Supervisor’s “hat”… using a job title so common in many local government organizations… raises all sorts of thoughts. To start with, we should change that role title from supervisor to Park Team Leader. That way, depending on the person wearing that “hat,” we may well change his-her thinking from one of modeling an administrative, inspection role to more of an anticipatory, people-focused one. Where:

Administrative – reducing time spent on bureaucratic paperwork and counting every blade of grass cut in the park. Our obsession with counting is tiresome and yet amusing, and takes leaders away from interacting with their people.

Inspection – reducing time spent on looking over people’s shoulders and pointing out what they’re doing wrong.

Anticipatory – looking ahead to tomorrow or next week as a prelude to positioning things for ongoing park success.

People-focused – engaging available staff, so they willingly meet their fair share of everything that needs to be done.

 

Besides, that park lead-person will find leading much more gratifying than supervising – most of us normal people would see it this way, although some people are just born to be bossy. This leading view is spot-on in conjunction with the viewpoints shared above and below:

 

» Taking advantage of collective versus individual action – You will recall there were six ladies in that south-side park gaggle; all buzzing around adjacent to the park office, where they would wish to be noticed. How about, with my Park Team Leader’s hat on, if they were encouraged to break-up into three teams of two – known as work-pairing?

     It was clear that they were enjoying being part of that gaggle, which reinforces again the social nature of human beings. To now send them all off on individual clean-up assignments around the park would be a form of purgatory. How about, instead, breaking them into pairs; especially with other group members they would enjoy teaming-up with? Now let one pair be responsible for the north-sidewalk, another pair the east and west side-walks, and the

remaining pair for the south-sidewalk. Pairing, after all, as many articles have been written about it, is a particularly effective size team for getting things done; as this writer has proven over many years.

Such paired-ladies, or men, or man and woman, would take great pride in keeping their sidewalk domains clear of leaves and other weekly debris, as well as likely relish working with each other. You could equally allow them to switch into different pairings, just to enjoy other team members, too. Their domains would most probably be pristine and they would show great pride in keeping them that way. So how about looking at other park areas for similar treatment? Now that would be something worth sharing in that every-day management, computer reporting system!

 

» End of individual efficiency models – Would this be the end of such models? Individual efficiency models were likely developed over 100 years ago; designed for long production lines, where people were banned from talking with each other for fear they would waste valuable time. Can you imagine how life-sterile that was and still is in certain parts of the world? That’s when people were just regarded as being pairs-of-hands: as famously defined by Henry Ford when he was quoted as saying; “Why to do I have to hire the whole person, when all I need is a pair-of hands?”

     Rich Sheridan, President of Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would go out of his way to convince you of the enormous value in pairing. His software programmers constantly work in rotating pairs with huge advantages, which far outweigh the individual efficiency model cost. Take a look at his book, ‘Joy, Inc.’

 

Having argued for this enlightened approach, this writer uses pairing all the time in executive development projects to the considerable advantage of his clients. To get the most out of such pairings, participants expect the following:

» A clear purpose with clearly defined human and numerical outcomes.

» They need a framework of working principles and values that feel conducive to them.

» Have sufficient know-how, or the possibility to retrieve the right know-how, will be important to them.

» Be allocated enough resources or be allowed to pursue essential resources at their own volition.

» Receive regular respect and reinforcement will also help keep their tails up.

» Wherever you can, give them an objective read-out on their respective communication preferences – that way they can better understand how to partner with each other…contact peter@ileadershipsolutions.com.

 

And so, ‘Falling leaves in the Park,’ or whatever work context you find yourselves in, is a great way to work more effectively and naturally with your people. Don’t forget, done right, collaborative effectiveness trumps individual efficiency in so many areas. It just requires a little more thought, in terms of positioning and leadership to take full advantage of it. But then, anything worth doing requires more than traditional passing thoughts … like, “That’s the way it’s always been done.”

 

Put your work-pairing and 6-7special project teams in place soonest. You won’t regret it.

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To learn more about team building, please contact:

 



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
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