FIVE WAYS to MAKE TEAMWORK a WAY of LIFE
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
For several months, I trained supervisors and production employees in Fast
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.
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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