Very few things in life can be accomplished alone. Most of the time we need help to achieve our goals. Acknowledging the importance of teamwork and building our personal teams will help us be successful in our business and personal lives. I propose these five examples of ways to make teamwork a way of life from my personal experience.

Make things happen with "TEAMWORK."

In 1992, I was hired as the process consultant for a "greenfield" start-up plant. Literally, I worked on the shop floor; four walls built on concrete in the middle of the plant served as our training center. We trained everyone, management, new hires, and transplants from other plants, in Teamwork and Problem Solving. Our problem case examples came from the shop floor where equipment was being installed and product lines were being built. A few years later that plant was named by "Industry Week Magazine" as one of the top ten producing plants in the U.S. We were invited to revisit and see how we had made things happen with "teamwork." It was quite a thrill to see how the solutions the training teams had implemented really helped the plant grow. This was a great opportunity to use teamwork to make things happen.

See "TEAMWORK" as the answer to Community Problems. Maybe it really does "take a village."

By forming teams in the community you can solve problems. For example working with a team, develop a hot air balloon festival that draws 10,000 people to your area, conduct a capitol fund campaign to create an educational component for young people to study classical music with the local symphony, or raise one million dollars to save a beloved Scout camp from being sold for development. Look around your community to see what needs to be done, and form a team to do it.


        Explore "TEAMWORK" with those who may be Competitors.

My husband, Dick, and I are avid auto race fans. Sometimes, we see race competitors temporarily "team up" to pass another competitor. The drivers know two cars can go faster together than either car can separately. So they "draft," by lining up one behind the other to pass the third car. When the pass is complete, they suddenly break the draft and become competitors again, racing each other to the finish line. In the business setting, we call that "synergy".

For Ford Motor Co, several Organization Development consultants worked together to deliver the RAPID process improvement process to our mutual client. Working together, and with internal employees, we were able to reduce non-value added work and improve cycle time that resulted in an improvement of over $400 million for Ford. While most of the time, we work as friendly "competitors" bidding on separate contracts, for two years we worked together to provide synergy for our client.


Feel the "TEAMWORK" that happens when you know you have made a difference.

For several months, I trained supervisors and production employees in Fast Start

Teamwork™ techniques. I knew I had made a difference on the day, Bill, a 40-year-old production employee shyly handed me a big red apple. He said, "Here is an apple for the teacher--is that OK?" I took the apple, and said "of course, and thank you very much." Then Bill said, "I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your teaching. I never had nothing like this before, and I wanted to tell you ‘thank you.’" I really wanted to thank Bill, because he had made things happen for me that day, by touching me so deeply.

And finally:

Walk the Talk of "TEAMWORK."

Say "thank you" to those who have joined your team to help you be successful. Take time to recognize the people who have helped you along the way. Tell your colleagues you appreciate their commitment to maintaining the ethics and professionalism of our vocation. Say "thank you" to the former professors who helped you get started by offering live case presentations to their present classes. Say "thank you" to suppliers who go the extra measure for your business. Remember the family members and friends who encourage you along the way.


These are some of my personal examples of teamwork. I challenge each of you to find opportunities for teamwork, because it is almost impossible to be successful in this business alone. So, as you travel along your journey to success, make TEAMWORK the way of your life!

© by Renée Merchant, 1997



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