Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

It Seemed Like a Good Idea…

January 29th, 2019

George: I had to share this story with you as it was so obvious to see the Colors of our team in action. Each of our branches was asked to do a poster to celebrate our company merger. We wanted ours to be a “family” theme with finger paint. No, none of the Gold or Green staff were in on that creative decision.

Then I thought: Even better – lets all put our hand prints on the poster, in the color of our highest Color! I wish you could have seen the faces of the staff when I told them what we were doing!

Green: I haven’t put my hand in paint since I was two, and I’m not going to start again now. (Oh, but yes you are…) Their look of horror and hate said it all.

Gold: I’ll put my hand in the paint, then wipe off all the excess right away. And could you tell me which space is mine, and specifically where you want me to put it? Oh, I don’t think I can fit my hand into that spot without touching someone else’s – that won’t be very neat…oh boy…what to do… Of course, then ten minutes of cleaning up.

Blue: This is so touching… hands all over the place, all different, but all together. How beautiful and fun – makes me feel like a kid again. Oh look, my hand is touching that Gold hand. How beautiful and symbolic… This is awesome!

Orange: You want me to what? OK, hurry up. I’ll slap my hand through this paint for a while…whoops, who is cleaning up all that paint on the table? Oh well, someone will…and the drips from the table to the poster…never mind… Then: SLAP – right in the middle of the poster with the hand spread wide and droplets of paint splattering all over everyone else’s print…oh, whatever…gotta go…

So the poster is done. We Blues think it’s beautiful and symbolic. The Greens won’t look at it. The Golds are really upset that the Oranges splattered on it and made a mess. If it didn’t make their hands dirty, they’d really prefer to do it again – a lot neater, and with them in charge! And the Oranges? Well, they haven’t given it a thought since it was done. It was fun – but so yesterday.  (D.N. reprinted)

“Our People Matter”

January 4th, 2018

That’s a line you’ll find on the website of almost any company. It’s part of the standard template. But that won’t tell you if their actions match their words. I’m blessed to work with companies of all different sizes, cultures, and industries,  where their people do matter, and it shows. Here are three very different businesses whose actions match their words:

TRU-CO is a dynamic company with a unique vision on how to do business. Their view is that, if people are happy, they will be productive and conscientious. The by-product of this is a world class product out the door. This concept carries through to relationships with their customers, vendors, competitors and charitable organizations that we are affiliated with. If you give people what they want, they give back (or forward) more than ever expected.

Chinese internet giant Alibaba (their equivalent of Amazon) became a publicly traded company two years ago and instantly became one of the largest companies in the world. But to quote CEO Jack Mah: We put customers first, employees second, and shareholders last. It’s the opposite of most North American companies and what they teach in business schools. But Mah made that clear before shares went on sale to the public. ‘If you don’t like it – do not buy the company stock.’

An even bigger proponent was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. In an interview with his biographer he was asked what his biggest accomplishment was. It wasn’t the Iphone, Apple computer, or any actual product. It was building the Apple team. His answer shouldn’t be a surprise, because, without a team and the people, the products wouldn’t have been developed.

Can Golds Make Orange Dreams Come True?

January 4th, 2018

Behind every Orange U.S. President was a high Gold chief of staff. None of the last three started with them, but, according to most experts, their administration did much better after they took over. The definition of “much better” is different for different Orange Presidents. For some it may have been removing some of the Orange chaos. That’s fun for them, but not in the White House. For others it was the impetus for getting their agenda moving, or greatly changing the dynamics with Congress. For President Regan it was Jim Baker, for President Clinton, it was Leon Panettta, and for President Trump it was most noticeable when John Kelly became his chief of staff last summer.

Those might not have been the people an Orange wanted running their campaign, but it’s definitely who they need (initially against their wishes to some degree) once they were in office.

That isn’t any different on your team, or in your department. How another Color does things, sees things, or makes things happen, is very different than a Gold would do it. But many times it isn’t the job of the Gold to slow things down, change directions, or get judgmental that it ought to be done “their way.” But, more times than I can count, after the fundraising idea is set, after the client is retained or saved, it’s Golds that step up (or need to, or should). At that point, it’s to make the promises come true, or to pro-actively manage the hundreds of critical details.  It’s the reason that many successful sales teams have more Oranges in the outside (client) sales and the Golds in the inside sales positions.

We can’t be good at everything – but every Color is really good, and incredibly valuable, at different stages of our work life and on our team.

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.