My friend Brian Remer posted up a short article he entitled, “Two Team Elements for Instant Success,” and in it, he writes of the issues of shared Identification and Interdependence. You can see his thoughts on his newsletter.
In it, he says:
A sense of shared Identification refers to the positive ways individual team members relate to one another. The more interests and experiences they have in common, the more affinity they feel to each other. These commonalities can be associated with culture, history, experiences, interests, beliefs, language, and so on. The more unusual the examples of Identification, the stronger the ties within the group are likely to become.
Interdependence refers to the way a team works together to accomplish its goals. Group goals should match individual goals so that the efforts of everyone are integral to team success. The team needs to see the value of being a team; that their work could not have been accomplished by disconnected individual activities; that it makes a difference to be a member of this team.
To foster Interdependence, emphasize cooperation and recognize each team member’s contribution to the shared goal. Provide opportunities for the team to work together and be successful. Talk about the importance of their efforts and describe how their goal could not have been accomplished without every person’s input.
I think Brian makes good points. But I also think that this thinking is somewhat short-sighted and narrow when applied to an organization, which tends to be my focus. Sure, teamwork is important within a workgroup, but I also think that these two dynamics only work with small groups. That is the focus of his writing, work teams, but it should not be the focus of organizational leadership.
With an old consulting friend who is now internal and senior with a large bank’s leadership development organization, I just shipped her my Professional Version of my team building simulation, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. She has a session planned for tomorrow, so getting her the materials to her quickly was important.
THREE MONTHS AGO, we started positioning the sale with Purchasing. She had the approvals and the requisite information. I sent my details, tax structure, etc. And nothing… A week ago, I shipped her all the materials. I am STILL not set up as a vendor and they have NOT paid me for the exercise.
She has emailed and called Accounts Payable a number of times over the past months, and they finally sent her forms that she forwarded to me on Friday, including a number of materials relevant for non-US companies, a registration for sales of personal services, a non-vendor payee for direct deposit, a minority business registration, and yes, a W-9. She simply wants to purchase a GAME, with no personal services or related. It has a fixed price and I am the sole-source vendor.
After three months, no one is Payables has contacted me, even though I “registered” on Saturday with them and they have had my email address for months. It certainly feels like they are treating me (and her) as adversaries, even though all she wanted to do is buy a team building exercise that she had used for years with her former company. Ironic, huh? But it is actually not that uncommon, from my past experiences. There are many adversarial dynamics in large companies.
It is this common lack of collaboration between her training and development organization and different groups within the bank that reaffirms that:
Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron.
And it is that kind of choice and focus that causes a great deal of lost productivity and friction. She HAS the authorization from her boss to purchase the materials, and they have the budget. But a group like Purchasing plays its own games and focuses on its own processes to even actively block other groups from being productive. WHY?
My Big View says that the top managers are more likely to be competitive more than collaborative. Departments compete against each other as much as they work together to get things done.
The irony is that we clearly smoke this out using Lost Dutchman, the exercise she is trying to purchase, Dutchman gives teams the opportunity to collaborate with each other to optimize the overall results. It is about a shared focus on, “Mining as much Gold as WE can,” with “we” meaning the group, and not each tabletop.
The tabletops play great. There are seldom issues of shared Identification and Interdependence in how they plan and play. They bond up right away and operate reasonably effectively together. They process and handle the transactions pretty well. Their teamwork is good and it happens fast because of the nature of the challenge they face. It is this choice of working with the OTHER teams that is always the issue — and the real opportunity that is available for performance improvement of the entire organization.
Brian is right, but it is small group thinking. The bigger context of how organizations really work would suggest that shared organizational visions and goals, that are clearly understood and evidenced in organizational behavior, that are the keys to real teamwork and collaboration.
And maybe my friend needs to do some sessions that involve these Accounting people along with other departmental leaders and managers. It would probably have a wide variety of impacts on overall performance results,
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.
One of the best teambuilding exercises in the world, as rated by his users, is The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which focuses on leadership, collaboration, alignment and focuses on implementing the collective performance optimization ideas.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org