Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

Putting the “I” Back Into Teamwork

January 8th, 2015

A recent story in Fortune magazine was entitled Teamwork! Secrets of Greatness. It started by suggesting all those posters and definitions of team players get dumped and that there is an “I” in teamwork.

The article argued that teamwork is an individual skill, implies a shared responsibility and that we cannot ever control the behavior of others, but only our own. Or in the words of Robert Frost: “Men work together, whether they work together or apart.”

But just putting together a number of people certainly doesn’t make a team. The best sports example is probably the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team, which consisted of huge NBA stars with tens of millions of income who lost to the “no-name” team from Lithuania. Yet the 1980 U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets against all odds with players assembled by coach Herb Brooks that nobody had ever heard of. The movie Miracle has some great lessons on building teams, which started when the coaching staff refused to take the best college players. Said Brooks: “I’m not looking for the best players – I’m looking for the right players.”

Any team, social or safety committee, or even department (if the numbers are large enough) should include the special skills of every Color. We have very different strengths and contributions that others don’t share. If you want the group, meeting, fundraiser, or whatever to be a successful, it takes all four of our Colors! That’ll include the solo stars that get going, the team builders who assure everyone is included and on the same page. It’ll need the air traffic controllers that keep track of everybody and everything, and the people who actually think ahead before jumping or committing.

On our team:
Orange supplies the energy
Gold supplies the practicality
Blue provides the heart
Green provides the quality

Five Quick Insights

November 15th, 2012

You may want to shave your head! According to a new study by the Wharton School of Business, men with shaved heads appear younger and more confident. They may also have greater leadership potential. Sorry ladies, I double checked: MEN ONLY! And here I kept thinking it was based on talents…

A Green gets lots of green: George Lucas sold his Star Wars franchise to Disney for more than $4 billion last month. More Green good news is that Disney committed to a new movie every two years. But George Lucas took forever and was the consummate perfectionist… and that still didn’t satisfy a ton of his fans. Time will tell if Disney feels the same.

Stand up meetings? According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, a recent trend in some industries is to have stand-up meetings. Of course, it started with technology companies, who are usually at the leading edge of anything innovative.

But it’s Oranges and Golds who love it. Oranges don’t believe any meeting should ever last longer than 15-minutes. Golds share the Orange impatience, and also want to focus on the subject at hand, deal with an issue, and move on. The general feedback in the story was that people love it – although some think their meetings still last too long…

Orange teamwork – sort of: Recently an Orange group at a seminar wrote that they like the concept of teamwork. What? Not teamwork, but the concept of teamwork?
Let them explain: Teamwork is a preference for Oranges, but only with others who are quick on their feet and can keep up. It needs to be with people who challenge and motivate them, share a mindset of being winners and wanting to succeed, and where Oranges can delegate some of the mundane tasks… if that happens, they do love teamwork!

Don’t misinterpret Blue niceness: Blues are often judged as being timid or meek. That’s generally defined as shy or powerless. But that is not the original meaning of the word at all. It was a great compliment when the word meek was first used in defining someone. These were people who used their power for a purpose. That’s so true for all Blues.

When Opposite Colors Work Together

January 4th, 2012

Spin Master, headquartered in Toronto, is the third-largest toy manufacturer in the world. Its partner and senior executive definitely prove that opposite personalities can work together very well, even in business.

According to a story in Canadian Business, Ian Kennedy is the chief operating offer. His office is all charts, graphs, and product development to-do lists. On the other extreme is one of the founding partners, Ben Varadi, whose title is vice-president of product development. Varadi’s office consists of giant fish aquariums and resembles a playpen.

One partner is all about data analysis and crunching the numbers, while the other confesses he operates on gut feelings and instinct.

The company re-vamp began in 2006 when Kennedy joined the company. What the Orange founder realized was that real-time information, systems of checks and balances, a finely tuned IT department, and a proper on-time delivery system (from 67% to over 90% now) were needed just as much as the Orange drive, marketing skills, and creativity.

In relationships, opposites attract. That’s something most people already know. But in business, in your department, in any branch or company, when opposites attract at work, incredible things will happen when our Colors work as a team, and actually utilize (and value) each others’ strengths and talents.

We Showed Our Colors!

July 6th, 2011

So how tricky is it to convince all the Colors that a project to build a quilt with staff decorating a square of their Color, and placing it on the wall in a quilt shape, is a fantastic idea?

Well, it did take some discussions and planning. Way too much for the Orange who came up with the idea! But gather some Golds to make a detailed list of supplies, some Blue to calm the waters, and some Greens to think through the plans, and the ball gets rolling.

Interesting what happens when you hand someone a square with their background Color on it, and ask them to decorate it, adding at least their name! Of course, to add to the fun we set a deadline of when the squares would be placed on the quilt.

Fast forward to the night before when our trusty Gold needed to prepare a border of colors to ensure some order, and a place to start. But…

 Gold: “The bulletin board is upside down! Look at the little sticker in the corner”

 Gold: “It’s crooked”

 Green: “You don’t even have the correct number of squares as I have calculated based on…”

 Orange: “ I LOVE the bright colors”

 Green: “ The green and the orange are too bright”

 Blue: “ Why are you putting up the blank squares”

 Gold: “ I have permanent eye damage from cutting out those bright ones”

 Blue: “I haven’t got mine done… what will I do? Could I go last?”

Now in order to keep the flow (for the Golds and Oranges that have other stuff to do) and fair (Blues need consideration too) we will draw names in groups of five (Greens preferred an exact calculation of number of people divided by…) of who will place their square, and then the next group will come up. What color do you suppose suggested that? Let the actual quilt building begin:

 “Sorry for the delay some extensive re-pinning has ensued, are they Gold?”

 “Check out the quilt with the shirt built from play money! Is that money laundering?”

 A Blue wanted a hug once her square is placed

 That Gold is still rearranging everyone’s squares… call Security – they’re loitering

 A hint for the poor Gold souls: The squares aren’t square!

 Orange casually finishing their square the morning of the quilt building

 A Green/Gold did three squares before choosing the worthy one to display

 A Gold/Green admires our vibrant Orange leader who dresses up like they would NEVER do

 Green who planned in her head what it would look like, but then waited to do the square until the last day

 Another Gold that needs to rearrange and align the squares…again…

 Blue who wanted her square to be accepted and beautiful, and who spent $30 on stickers and scrapbook supplies, then two hours assembling it all

 An Orange made the Gold cringe when they placed their square on an angle

 Blues gathered and stayed to find out all they could about everyone

 Orange placed staples down the side of their square with a message “ just to bug you gold ones”

 Gold who fixed that sideways Orange square immediately

 Gold who spent forever getting her square right with assistance, only to have some rowdy Blues say maybe it’s still a little crooked on the one side. Then quickly say “we were just joking…”…and feeling bad…

 Gold placed an extra item (wine bottle) on another’s square and once discovered much laughter was enjoyed. Of note: “ the wine is the wrong kind”

 Blue had to take care of everyone (by moving the Orange square to a less prominent position) when an Orange broke the rules and went out of turn!

Everyone was so proud of their square, and much discussion was shared about why people’s squares were decorated that way. Every little or big item on every square has great meaning and significance. All agreed we had a great time expressing ourselves and our Colors, laughing at ourselves, and watching our Colors and the quilt unfold. C.C. from SCU

Us versus Them – Two Different Views

March 15th, 2011

If there is one person who excels at creating a culture of customer service, it’s Sir Richard Branson. Orange Branson is the owner of Virgin Airlines, Virgin Mobile, and a ton of other companies. Branson actually chooses to enter businesses others avoid like the plague and cannot make money in.

But then, for Branson it’s all about the customer – and it shows. When front-line staff use “they,” instead of “we,” it’s the first clue that there are significant communication problems and other issues within the company. “They” (management, or some unnamed group) changed the policy on this or that, or “they” decided something or another. However, it also originates with management who start to claim that “they,” the front-line staff, don’t adhere to this policy or just don’t do one thing or another. But two “they” don’t make a “we.”

Branson argues that it is often a blockage of information, caring, and communication, which fosters this mindset. When Virgin Atlantic designs new interior cabins, the flight attendants are involved from day one. It creates huge pride, a sense of involvement, and caring. It also becomes a whole lot cheaper than retrofits and changes later when it turns out that the layout is unworkable for passengers or crew.

Many companies also continue to make the problem worse with more and more reliance on impersonal communications, or policies and procedures, sent by e mails as a done deal. The “how-to” improve the situation is easier, and a choice. What’s much harder is getting staff to actually start to listen to each other. Maybe the next time you hear a “they,” it’s worth asking the person if they don’t work here, too?

Bronson’s attitude about customer service very much reflects that same mindset. In his companies, it is always “first to know – first to handle.” In other words, whichever staff member hears about a concern from a customer is in charge of resolving the matter. Branson believes that, in order to truly stand out when it comes to customer service, rules should be seen more as flexible guidelines. Yes, Bronson is Orange, and every Orange sees it that way. But then, results speak louder than words – and Bronson’s companies stand head and shoulders above others, in a ton of businesses, when it comes to customer service and retention.

In the words of Branson: “Any manager who believes rules are rules and policies are written in stone likely doesn’t work directly with customers. It’s also likely to be a company or department which has the “we vs. them” mindset.”

For anyone who prefers the opposite approach, meet Michael O’Leary. O’Leary is the CEO of Ryanair, the widely successful discount airline operating in Europe. You may recall that his airline first floated the idea last year of pay toilets on airplanes. While that may be a ways off, O’Leary did ban cover sheets on faxes and requires his employees to buy their own pens.

O’Leary has worked hard to become one of the most unpleasant people in Ireland, but he’s proud of it. But when it comes to customer service, his attitude is entirely different from Bronson’s. Here is his quote to Bloomberg Businessweek: “One of the great MBA-speak ideas is that the customer is always right. The customer is usually wrong. The only time you hear from a customer is when they’re usually complaining because they want to break our rules. Why can’t I get a refund for my non-refundable ticket? Bugger off!”

Then, as if to prove O’Leary’s us vs. them policy, Ryanair had a flight diverted due to fog this winter. The captain announced that they would not wait for the fog to clear, but would be bussing the passengers for six hours to their destination. However, the passengers revolted in a reverse-hostage taking, and refused to leave the airplane.

At that point, the crew blocked access to the washrooms and cut the passengers off any water or snacks in an attempt to force them from the plane. When the passengers still didn’t budge, they simple called the police and had them forced off the plane and onto the busses. How’s that for PR? In fact, the story made headlines across Europe for weeks! So, personally, I’ll go with the Branson approach….


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What’s a Great Career For a Blue/Orange?

December 17th, 2009

That was an e-mail from a client. But, unfortunately, the question is way too general. Every person, and every Color, can be wildly successful at any career or job. The question is whether they’ll be truly happy, or even whether being happy is all that important. Tons of people work for a very long time in a career of their third or fourth Color. At that point, they often just choose (or need to) measure success in a different way than their first Color might, if that makes sense.

What I do know, for a Blue/Orange to last, and to really do something that’s their passion, it HAS to involve people contact. Blues OR Oranges might do without that lifeline of people, teams, clients, and social interactions for a while, but the “double people Colors combination” almost makes that imperative over the long haul.

A good rule of thumb would be that the career or job should likely be something that has less than a third of their day focused on paperwork, working alone, chained to a desk, and the likes. But there are vast numbers of different careers which would be awesome for any Blue OR Orange, or that combination.

The question for this person, or anyone else, is what’s your real passion? What have you always dreamed of doing? If you could do anything, what would it be? For those, and to have a career in those areas, you don’t need my feedback – you just need to get moving and out of your comfort zone.