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September 2007
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November 2007

Teamwork & Creativity -- How to survive in the new global economy

Michael Cardus of points us to a powerful 7 minute video clip with a clear message:  there are BIG changes on the horizon.

Because I look at the world through a teambuilding lens, I see this video as a wake up call which says teamwork and creativity will keep your team/business competitive. 

If you haven't done it yet, you need to read Dan Pink's book entitled "A Whole New Mind".  Dan's book will help put this video into perspective and more importantly he tells you what to do so you won't become a dinosaur.

Top Five Reasons Why Most Teambuilding Events Are A Waste Of Time

Alex Kjerulf at the Chief Happiness Officer blog has a nice post entitled "Top Five Reasons Why Most Teambuilding Events Are A Waste Of Time"

I like # 3 of the top 5...

3: People learn less when they’re competing

Studies show that we learn less when we compete and more when we cooperate. Here’s an example from education:

In a comprehensive review of 245 classroom studies that found a significant achievement difference between cooperative and competitive environments, David Johnson and Roger Johnson of the University of Minnesota reported that 87 percent of the time the advantage went to the cooperative approach.

In visiting classrooms where cooperative learning is used, I like to ask students to describe the experience in their own words. One ten-year-old boy thought a moment and replied, “It’s like you have four brains.” By contrast, a competitor’s single brain often shuts off when given no reason to learn except to triumph over his or her classmates.

- Alfie Kohn (Source)

Anyone who quotes Alfie Kohn is OK by me. 

Working with virtual teams: Why your coworker writes rude things, What it costs you, How to stop

Here's the Virtual Team scenario:

Two companies have formed a joint venture to develop a new telecommunications product. Engineers in both companies were hard at work, but the project itself was stalled.

The reason? A consultant we know diagnosed the problem this way: "Engineers on each side never saw each other," he told us, let alone coordinated their work on the project. "The two sides just e-mailed their irritations to each other. They were having a flame war."

Danield Goleman (of "Emotional Intelligence" fame) and Clay Shirky co-wrote a great article on how to handle this situation.  Click HERE to read the article.

Teamwork is everywhere - - even among plants!

Science Daily reports on new research which reveals that plants have their own chat systems that they can use to warn each other.

...plants cannot be considered boring and passive organisms that just stand there waiting to be cut off or eaten up. Many plants form internal communications networks and are able to exchange information efficiently.

Many herbal plants form networks via runners between plants which allow the plants to communicate with each other.

But what do plants want to chat to each other about?

...clover plants warn each other via the network links if enemies are nearby. If one of the plants is attacked by caterpillars, the other members of the network are warned via an internal signal. Once warned, the intact plants strengthen their chemical and mechanical resistance so that they are less attractive for advancing caterpillars.

Thanks to this early warning system, the plants can stay one step ahead of their attackers. Experimental research has revealed that this significantly limits the damage to the plants.

Read the complete Science Daily article HERE.

What is the lesson for your team?  Strengthen your communication systems!  Pay attention to how you communicate and do everything you can to grow in this area.

The "Certified Communicator Program" is a fantastic tool you can use to help guide you and your team to grow and strengthen your communication skills. 

There are 100 points to the Certified Communicator Program and it focuses on the following 10 key areas:

  1. How well do you come across? - - These are how others would likely describe your communication style
  2. How well do you listen? - - How well do you hear what is being said, and not said?
  3. How well do you articulate? - - How well are you understood?
  4. What do you converse about? - - What do you focus on and talk about with others?
  5. How well do you converse? - - How often do you have fluid, two-way conversations?
  6. How authentic do you sound? - - How real are you and how real do you sound?
  7. How big are you? - - How flexible, respectful and generous are you?
  8. How mature are you? - - What does your communication style tell others about you?
  9. How free are you of communication blocks? - - What's holding back your effectiveness as a communicator?
  10. How effective are you? - - How good are you at producing results?

The Certified Communicator Program is a free resource to all enrolled in the Emerging Leaders Coaching Program. 

Ask The Teamwork Coach: How do you handle someone who is being obnoxious?

When you work with a team (on a team) you are going to encounter behavior that is less then ideal.  Knowing this in advance allows the team to create a set of operating principles (rules of engagement) that #1) sets the tone or standard of behavior and #2) let's the team know what's expected when something undesired happens.

How then do you handle a team member who is being obnoxious?

If your team has no predetermined course of action, no expectations, then you might try to ignore the behavior or the person all together.

However, if the expectation is to hold team members accountable then you would address the behavior.

Daniel Goleman is the author of the NY Times best sellers "Emotional Intelligence" and "Social Intelligence" and he offers some valuable insights on how to handle obnoxious behavior HERE.

Award winning PE teacher and advocate of teambuilding games Phil Lawler tells how to save American children from the obesity tsunami

If you saw the award winning 2004 documentary entitled Super Size Me  then you saw - at least for a few minutes - an amazing man by the name of Phil Lawler.

Super Size Me explains why Americans are so fat.  At one point in this powerful documentary, the main "character" (and he IS a character) Morgan Spurlock visits the Chicago suburb of Naperville where things are different.


Most of America (and most students) are somewhere between 30-40% overweight and obese.  And we see the results of this sickness in heart disease and diabetes and...

HOWEVER, in the Naperville school system only 3% of the students are overweight and obese.

How could that be? 

What's happening in the Naperville school system?

The answer:  Phil Lawler

Phil_lawler_and_tom_heck When you watch the documentary you'll have to pay close attention because they don't spend long with Phil.  But he caught my attention so I called him.  That's Phil and me in the photo.

If you have kids or work with kids then you owe it to yourself to listen to the new 50 minute audio interview with Phil (below). 

Most school systems in the US are cutting back on Physical Education (PE) or completely eliminating it.  Where I live elementary kids get PE once a week for 40 minutes. 

Why is PE being reduced or completely removed?  Administrators believe PE is "extra" and kids need to focus on "academics" (to raise test scores).

So the kids get fatter and fatter.  And one would assume the pay-off would be smarter and smarter kids.

NOPE!  It's a fallacy.  Kids aren't getting any smarter with the reduction or removal of PE.

The kids in Naperville, Illinois have PE class EVERY DAY (K-12) and they have as high or higher test scores than any school you want to compare them to.

I walked through the halls of Naperville High School and I didn't see any fat kids.  That might sound kind of cruel but it's true.  When I visit other schools around the country I see what has become the new "normal" which is 1/3 of the population is overweight and obese. 

Are Naperville PE teachers a bunch of old school "whip them into shape" types?  Not even close.  Phil used to be an "old school" type but he saw the light and now teaches a brand of PE that is so innovative that he was asked to testify before Congress.

And would you be surprised if I told you that Phil's curriculum is heavy on teaching team skills through fun and engaging teambuilding games?

If you knew what was going on in Naperville you would DEMAND the same happen in your kid's school. 

Click on the link below to listen to the audio interview with the most amazing PE teacher you'll ever meet, Phil Lawler:

Download phil_lawler_interviewed_on_sept. 25, 2007 by Tom Heck of

Phil Lawler is recently retired from teaching and is now sharing his amazing Physical Education program through a company called PE4Life.

I'm going to be presenting two workshops at the one-day conference for PE teachers held every year in Naperville, Ill.  The date is Friday February 29, 2008.  For more information about this event contact Mary Hirth with the Naperville school system.

Teamwork Raises Everyone's Game - - so says The Wall Street Journal

How does teamwork impact the bottom line?

Who better to answer that question than The Wall Street Journal?

An article from the November 7, 2005 issue says research from a variety of settings points to the fact that how a team works together will determine their level of success - - even in fields thought of as dominated by individual "stars".

Individual stars?

Yes, you know who I'm talking about.  Like the "star" heart surgeon.  Surely you want the star heart surgeon to be the one digging around in your chest.  Right?


The research points to the fact that "the death rates from similar procedures performed by the same surgeon can vary as much as fivefold" depending on the surgical TEAM the heart surgeon is working with.

The article says:

...the results suggest that the surgeon's interactions with anesthesiologists, nurses and technicians are crucial to the outcome of the surgery. "The argument has always been that if you want to get something done well, you go to the best surgeon," he says. "Our findings suggest that the skills of the team, and of the organization, matter."

Even though teamwork has been a buzzword in management and business-school circles for years researchers say companies tend to focus recruiting efforts on a handful of stars. Focusing on assembling a groupof stars is a sure way to stay mediocre.  If you want your organization to excel then you focus on building TEAMWORK.

Read the WSJ article HERE.