Monday, October 10, 2011

Group Dynamics


Napoleon was such an effective strategist because he understood the power of teams. By decentralizing his military, he was able to create an environment where commanders could coordinate decisions with other commanders without waiting for Napoleon's go ahead. He fostered an environment where lateral coordination was key to giving his military the flexibility and precision of small troops, with the deadliness of a huge war machine.

Your organization can create a similar environment where teams excel. Teams not only perform better than individuals (in most cases) but they have the ability of turning people from uninspired employees into a group of superstars. However, many things needs to be in place first.  

1. The organizational structure needs to be built or restructured to create an environment where teams thrive. Consider things like: How much autonomy should a team have? How often do they need to report back? Will teams work in separate groups, on separate projects? Will there be cross-conversation and cross help among teams? Will two teams work together on a project? Will a team be for the most part be a  permanent engagement (like the partnership of two officers)?

2. Teams need to be built correctly. For example, a team of four will have a very difficult time being successful if they’re all very chatty or if they’re all very detail oriented. Instead, the best teams have complimenting traits like different approaches and different backgrounds. Some ways to go about building a team are by thinking about: professional specialization, detail-orientation, go-getters, big-picture thinkers, researchers, creativity, sales, beliefs, passions, culture, gender. The list goes on. Building a team is difficult because there are no cookie cutter solutions; in lieu of a framework, you need to adapt the criteria of your team based on situation.

3. Make sure your team understands all the issues, concerns and worries of all other team members before commencing work. Engaging in this activity allows every team member to understand each other’s points of views, discuss what they’re best at and prevent any future problems that may come up.

4. Set up a reward structure. One of the best approaches to this I’ve heard of is to reward the team members with nominal amounts of money, and ask them to buy gifts for other members of the team on the completion of successful projects.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a team?