One of the illustrations I have used over the years to focus on organizational paradoxes is this one:

Pride in Work is a good thing. But is Pride focused on Performance? How do these things relate?

I use this to get tabletops to discuss, “What is happening here?”

So, what IS happening in the illustration above?

One thing we can do is allow people to “polish things up,” but does that really pay any dividends? Does a clean break room refrigerator actually translate to results that will sustain the numbers of people in the workgroup and to performance improvement?

Maybe. But I think that too few organizations take that motivation of Pride and translate that into teamwork and workplace results. Too often, the group is focused only on the group and we sometimes see HIGH levels of pride translate into something that looks like this:

Interdepartmental Collaboration often looks like this. High levels of My Team, My Team can generate too much focus on MY Teams success and not enough on the organization. Really. Seen this too often…

What is happening here is why the term “Interdepartmental Collaboration” is so often seen as an oxymoron in most organizations. Oxymorons are words that do not really fit well together like Jumbo Shrimp, pretty ugly, free love, Great Depression and my personal favorite, religious tolerance…

The issue is that one team, wanting to win and generally succeeding, will not make another team’s journey any easier if they can have their way. Sharing success is seen as counter to succeeding and being seen as successful.

Teamwork and collaboration between teams are key issues in organizational improvement and generating optimal results. Our team building exercises are nearly all focused on generating competitive behaviors and discussing the choices that people make to compete rather than collaborative performance optimization.

Working together and sharing ideas can improve performance of ALL the wagons, not just the one in the lead.

Work together, Have FUN!


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Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
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