A variety of casual conversations in the past few days have refocused me on the “soft” side of teamwork, with soft referring to the stuff you cannot get a grip on. Some things are hard, like measurements and results and systems and processes, and some things you cannot even observe.
Let me use three simple words to illustrate:
A new acquaintance in the UK brings his college students to the US each year to visit companies like Nordstrom’s and The Ritz-Carlton and Southwest Airlines to show how some cultures simply support high levels of performance and quality. Since I consulted in this for decades back in the 1980s, the conversation was near and dear to my heart. Then, we shared a discussion along the lines of why so many companies just do not seem to get it.
Teamwork is certainly a factor, but the best teamwork will fail in an organizational culture that is not supportive. I often use the metaphor of alligators and sharks to talk about competition (with the sharks being the consultants, of course). But those same things can apply to organizational power politics, where somebody’s space or turf is being protected from incursions. (Think someone not in training doing training without HR buy-in or think someone working inter-departmentally with managers without the approval or oversight of their respective bosses…
So, since I was playing with the other cartoons in my Lost Dutchman series and doing some poems, I just now crafted up this little ditty:
It seems pretty common that people get “up to their axles in mud” and that making progress is often more difficult than it should be.
So this cartoon and poem are dedicated to the “soft stuff” that gets into the way of making progress.
For the FUN of It!
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.