Teams In Trouble #2: Stuck in Lose Lose Thinking
The Mirage of Team Building

Justifying Teamwork?

A recent email... "I am writing a report on teambuilding to the top management of my organization. The managers want to know  how many companies have got the benefits from teambuilding, especially, the famous ones." 

Is this an amazing question or what?!

I'm trying to imagine a group of top managers in a company sitting around a table saying "Do you think we would be a better company of we invested in building a better team?"

It's hard to believe  managers would actually sit around wondering if high performing teams (i.e. teams that generate more profits with greater speed and ease) are more or less valuable than a group of people who argue, don't share (resources, ideas, etc.) and generally operate from "lack mentality" (win-lose or lose-lose thinking).

This is like asking a fish to do research about the value of gills.  (To discover the value of gills, simply remove gills from a sample of fish and see what happens)

QuizAnd what about the "...especially , the famous ones" part of the above question?  Do the managers assume that famous teams (famous organizations) have some kind of inside knowledge about the value of teambuilding?  Enron was a famous team.  United Airlines is famous (about to go bankrupt though).  I'm reminded of the kid in high school who cheats by looking on the paper of the kid next to him - - the assumption being that kid is a reliable source of information.

Thomas L. Friedman wrote a book published in 2005 entitled "The World Is Flat".  Friedman describes how, through technological advances and the lowering of trade and politcal barriers, how it's now possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. What does this mean for organizations?  The short answer is you better find every conceivable advantage or someone somewhere is going to take your business right out from under your feet.  Your organization better be investing in creating high performing teams because someone somewhere is investing in teaching their group team skills right now (while you sit and wonder if it's a good investment).

It used to be an organization could "buy" their competitive edge (i.e. purchasing the latest and greatest computer, phone system, pda, fax machine, etc.).  Now technology is so cheap it alone can't provide the edge.  Developing people is the last frontier - - and as far as this blog is concerned it's about training people to work as a high performing team. It's HOW you get your people to work together that will produce the greatest competitive edge.



You've presented a nice, feel-good answer, but you didn't answer the question. The question asked "how many companies have got the benefits from teambuilding." Why did you not identify at least one recognizeable example of teambuilding improving performance? Your example of the fish with gills really doesn't help at all, because the question was about teambuilding, rather than teams. In order to apply the fish analogy appropriately, the question would be, "is the fish any better off if we work to improve the gills that it has?" I do like many of your ideas and materials, but practitioners in the field of team development would be better served if you could identify concrete success stories and returns on investment (ROI). Perhaps you could at least refer readers to helpful resources. Some of the ROI books from ASTD would be helpful.


I agree with Eric. You did not answer the question.

Second, the major point of Friedman's book, The World is Flat, is you better learn how to collaborate - internally and externally.

Go back to Friedman's earlier book, The Lexis and The Olive Tree and look at Friedman's eleven questions he asks organizations and countries. They speak to the need for team building/team work.



I think you should read and understand the questions carefully before replying.

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