Principles of Great Teams

BY ICFAI - 2017-02-03

Warren Bennis conducted a study to identify the principles that made great teams successful. He studied teams that worked on the Manhattan project, and those who worked in the Palo alto research Centre (PARC) of Xerox, Apple computers, Lockheed skunkworks, and Walr Disney animation studios. According to Bennis though all these teams were extraordinary in their own way, there were some principles that were common to all and these principles apply to all the organizations where these teams worked. The principles are:

Shared Dream

All the great teams shared the dream of making the world a better place to live in. they sincerely  believed that they would change the world for the better. These teams were obsessed with what they were doing and did not treat their work as simply a job but a fervent quest. The shared dreams and beliefs gave them the cohesiveness and energy needed to work.

Mission is Bigger than Ego

During the Manhattan project, one team member had a problem working with a colleague, and decided to leave. But the project leader reminded him that the mission was more important than individual egos  and this made the team member rethink his decision, and ultimately stay back. This example shows how great teams placed mission way above individual egos.

Protection from Leaders

All the great teams had leaders who protected the team members from the corporate headquarters. these leaders managed to keep the headquarters satisfied and told their team members to remain focused on their work. In all these cases, the leaders tried to maintain physical distance from the headquarters and this seemed to have helped in achieving their missions.

Fostering Enmity

A team with even the noblest of missions benefited when it had real or invented enemies. For example, the enemies of the Manhattan project were the Japanese and the Germans. An implicit mission such as destroying the enemy is more motivating than an explicit mission. During the heyday of apple computers, its mission was to bury IBM and Apple’s advertisements reflected this enmity.

Dare to be Different

Great teams generally consist of people who consider themselves as mavericks and are generally at the periphery of their disciplines. They like to operate on the fringes and do not have respect for the mainstream thinking or activities. As Bennis says, their sense of operating on the fringes feeds their obsession to succeed.

Pain & Suffering

A place in great teams is rarely assured without personal sacrifices. The nature of their work is such that the ten members generally go through intense pain and suffering. at the skunk works of Lockheed, the team members could not disclose information on their project even to their families. The team had to work in a cheerless, rundown building at Burbank, away from headquarters and main plants.

Strong Leaders

Though great teams are nonhierarchical, egalitarian, and open, yet they have strong leaders. As Bennis observed, the leaders in great teams are not always the most intelligent or capable in the team but neither are they passive players. They are like curators who appreciate and preserve talent in the team. Great teams make great leaders.

Strong Leaders

Though great teams are nonhierarchical, egalitarian, and open, yet they have strong leaders. As Bennis observed, the leaders in great teams are not always the most intelligent or capable in the team but neither are they passive players. They are like curators who appreciate and preserve talent in the team. Great team make great leaders.

Meticulouse Recruiting

Great teams are a result of understanding what talent is needed in the team, and spotting where the talent is available. The leader of the team and the other members consider recruiting a serious exercise. This ensures that the right people are in the right place.

Young and Energetic

All great teams had people who were quite young. Young people have the physical stamina necessary to withstand the arduous tasks involved. They do not consider anything impossible and that makes them accomplish the impossible. Great teams are also young in spirit, ethos, and culture.

Great teams deliver

Great team always believe in tangible outcome. Steve jobs gave adequate importance to this aspect at apple. He reminded his team that their work was not good enough unless it resulted in a great product at the end.

In case you missed it, my last post was The Art & Science of LEAN Manufacturing

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Acknowledgement: Leadership & Change Management book by ICFAI

  


 
 
Gemba Kaizen