As I mentioned in my last Blog post, I’ve been reading the book ‘Beautiful Teams’. It has been and continues to be one of the best books I have read for quite a long time. Great read. Highly recommended.
After reading a few of the recent team stories in ‘Beautiful Games’ about Computech and the creation of the ‘Little Big Planet’ game, an idea came to me about their beautiful teams and our beautiful countries. It seemed to be a great topic for a Blog post just after our National Holidays. My apologies for writing it on July 5th, but sometime you can’t schedule ideas.
Many of their stories talk about the balance between staying true to the vision and to the team members. It is something that I am sure many teams struggle with on how to balance these two opposing forces. I then realized how the countries of Canada and the United States of America are perhaps a great example of how the cultures of the countries can reflect these principles.
United States of America
One thing I have always admired about our neighbours to the south, is their patriotism and commitment to the vision of the country. Now there may be differences as to what we think that vision should truly be, but the amount of passion and commitment to the country is inspiring. In Canada, the vision of the country sometime seems to thought of after the individual. We expect we will stay true to the vision of Canada based on how we treat and embrace our diverse citizens. In many ways I think this is true, but in some ways I wonder if this causes a vision to be dispersed and stretched like too little butter spread on toast. (Tip of the hat to J.R.R. Tolkien) Our national identity and vision seems to be less focused than it was in our past.
I believe being committed to a vision is to be committed to principles and an ideal that usually requires individual sacrifice and placing the needs of vision above the needs of the individual or the team. This usually results in the individual having less to ensure the vision is maintained. This commitment to vision is embraced vibrantly in the USA.
One thing I have always admired about my country, is our commitment to our fellow team mates and citizens. Not everyone in Canada shares this commitment, but I do believe that this ideal is more pronounced in Canada. I believe we consider it our duty to give our ‘fair share’ so those that are less fortunate can be afforded the basic necessities of life. We can discuss whether we do enough in this regard and whether the actions achieve the desired result, but I believe it is core to the culture of Canada to help our fellow citizens as best we can. I think this concept can be easily extended to project teams and commitment to all team members.
In ‘Beautiful Teams’, the story on Computech had a great example on why commitment to all team members is so important. They told the story about an ‘underperformer’ and the extra work this ‘underperformer’ required from everyone. Wouldn’t they be a better team without him?
The answer is a resounding no. How a company works with ‘underperformers’ and helps them grow and work shows the commitment the team has to all members at all times. This loyalty to all team members results in more creativity, innovation, loyalty, and trust in the team because they know everyone has ‘their back’. They know that they will not be fired when they make a mistake.
In combining the best of Canada and the USA, I know we could create a beautiful team. We will have commitment to the vision and commitment to each other. I noticed two things as I typed this:
1) This discussion made no distinction between managers and team members. This is good, we are all team members.
2) There was no mention of the individual. Individual needs come after the Vision and the needs of our team mates. It is logical! (Tip of the hat to Gene Roddenberry)
At the end of the day, the organizational must balance the needs of the individual, team, and vision properly to create a high-performing organization. The emphasis placed on each item may fluctuate over time based on situations, but they need to be balanced over time.
When I reviewed what I perceive to be great organizations, they balance these needs exceedingly well. (From both a short-term and long-term perspective) This is true whether the organization is Unionized, Governmental, Private, or Entrepreneurial. (although the balance in each type of organization can be different as can the type of person that wants to belong to each type of organization)
I believe that combining the USA’s commitment to Vision and Canada’s commitment to our Teammates does create a Beautiful Team.