Friday, February 18, 2005

3 Books about Teams

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Paradigms & Paradoxes Corporation

MAKING TEAMS WORK: 24 lessons for working together successfully
Michael Maginn

Harvard Business Review on TEAMS THAT SUCCEED
(Harvard Business School Press)

Eric Baron
(Prima Publishing)

In the article “Speeding up Team Learning,” authors Amy Edmonson, Richard Bohmer and Gary Pisano write: “Cardiac surgery is one of medicine’s modern miracles. In an operating room no larger than many household kitchens, a patient rendered functionally dead—the heart no longer beating, the lungs no longer breathing—while a surgical team repairs or replaces damaged arteries or valves. A week later, the patient walks out of the hospital.”

“A conventional cardiac operation, which typically lasts two to four hours, unites four professions, and a battery of specialized equipment in a carefully choreographed routine. The surgeon and the surgeon’s assistant are supported by scrub nurse, a cardiac anesthesiologist and a perfusionist—a technician who runs the bypass machine that takes over the functions of the heart and lungs. A team in a typical cardiac surgery department performs hundreds of open-heart operations a year. Consequently, the well-defined sequence of individual tasks that constitute an operation becomes so routine that team members often don’t need works to signal the start of a new stage in the procedure; a mere look is enough.”

Unity in action. Teamwork. The authors found that success in learning came down to the way teams were put together and how they drew on their experience—in other words, on the teams’ design and management. “Teams that learned the new procedure most quickly shared three essential characteristics. They were designed for learning; their leaders framed the challenge in such a way that team members were highly motivated to learn; and the leaders’ behavior created an environment of psychological safety that fostered communication and innovation.”

The other topics in this compilation of research-based articles by various authors from the Harvard Business Review are: The Discipline of Teams, Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups, Why Bad Projects Are So Hard to Kill, What You Don’t Know About Making Decisions, Communities of Practice, How the Right Measures Help Teams Excel, and The Nut Island Effect: When Good Teams Go Wrong.

Likewise, it is often said that every member of an organization is a salesman for that organization. Author Eric Baron writes about “organization-wide selling—a way of doing business in which everyone in the organization participates at some level in the sales process.” “Selling is A Team Sport” is based on the simple idea that the single best differentiator (from your competitor) you can leverage is the people who make up your organization—provided you know how to deploy them effectively as value-adding resources that can knock the socks off your customers.

Eric Baron maintains that most people within every organization touch the customer, directly or indirectly with virtually everyone touching the customer in some way. Everybody in the organization takes responsibility for the customer in everything they do. Everyone, from the executives to workers on the shop floor, must consistently think about what they can do to provide outstanding customer satisfaction.

Imagine if you have an uninvolved surgeon, assistant, scrub nurse or profusionist in a cardiac surgery team. It often happens that a customer is persuaded to buy a product but eventually gets disappointed with value-diminishing after-sales service such as erroneous billing or curt telephone operator or smug executive and the list go on.

Eric Baron talks about making the problem-solving, customer-centered, organization-wide selling a reality by cultivating a customer-driven organization-wide selling culture. He reminds us that cultural change starts at the top and cascades down throughout the organization. Selling requires the whole organization acting together in unison to serve the customer.

Michael Maginn shares 24 lessons for working together successfully in his book, “Making Teams Work.” These are
• forge a clear, common goal
• clarify member skills and responsibilities
• take time for rules
• avoid predictable problems
• use the team constitution
• tell the new folks
• collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
• bring ideas to life
• leap to creativity
• makes solid decisions
• don’t compromise
• discover consensus
• seek a shared view
• practice consensus decision making
• use disagreement
• squash conflict viruses
• actively manage differences
• trust each other
• run good meetings
• regularly size up your team
• lead without dominating
• ask for help
• don’t give up

My favorite is “reward each other.”

Maginn writes: “When a team takes time to recognize individual contributions of team members, it is adding to the self-esteem of these people. It makes people feel good to be valued. It also builds a sense of community and mutually within the team. One way to recognize individual contribution is to send a ‘Love Bomb’ to each member. After a major project is completed or when difficult work has been tiring the team, get the team together to celebrate its members.

“Here is how a love bomb works: Each team member is supplied with a sheet of paper with the name of another team member on the top. The member writes a brief comment about a quality, characteristics, or specific contribution of the person and what that has meant to the writer. After everyone completes their comment, the papers are passed one person to the right. Now the member adds his or her comment to the one already on the page. When completed, the paper is passed again to the right until each team member has comments on each page.

“The leader of the team can read these ‘Love Bombs’ and present them to the team members. When this is followed up with a lunch on the company or a trip to the ballpark, then the feeling of being part of a community which values each member is reinforced.”

Additional ideas that cost nothing are: give team members a choice of assignment for the next project, post pictures of the team in a public setting, say ”thank you” for the work.

BOOK SHELF from Harvard Business School Press:

Harvard Business Review on COMPENSATION

Harvard Business Review on BUSINESS VALUE OF IT

CHANGING MINDS: the art and science of changing our own minds and other people’s minds
By Howard Gardner

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