The Megazord Team: Reaching Peak Team Efficiency
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” — Aristotle
Team mojo is a critical element to a business unit and a product’s success.
As an adult in the workplace, “teamwork” is no longer about crushing your opponent on the ball field. It is really operating in a perpetual state of group projects. A scary thought, especially for someone who hated group projects in school. When my brother (who is currently in college) was complaining about a group project a few weeks ago, I explained to him how important it is to learn how to make it work now. It will pay off in the long-run and your team will appreciate you for it.
The Megazord Team
Thinking back to my college group projects and hearing my brother’s complaints, I thought about my team at work. What makes our “group project” work day after day?
I realized it is about 3 core elements:
With these as our foundation, we are able to come together and operate as a single powerful entity — the Megazord.
The Power Rangers kick butt individually on the battle field, as a team. They come together to form Megazord when encountering a very challenging opponent.
A Megazord Team’s strength is derived from each of its individual’s super-powers and talents, operating as one being. This is more than mere synergy folks — it is distributed cognition.
Let’s analyze how these elements and distributed cognition enables teams to reach peak efficiency.
The Trinity of Elements
Trust — Autonomy — Accountability
As a software product team, my unit has many roles — product management, architecture, development, application availability, quality assurance, customer support, customer relationships, etc. I am the product manager for our little co-op. I learned very quickly that I have to allow my team mates to own their domains for us to be the best we can be as a whole. The 3 elements fuel domain ownership.
Your team can’t hum as one without establishing an environment where trust is a core value. Each member has to not only feel, but know that their mates trust them. In turn they also have trust in the others. This faith gives each individual the psychological security that they can rely on someone else to do their part and do it to the best of his/her ability. Trust is also upheld with the knowledge that your team mates own their domain and they are the expert in it.
With trust established, everyone eliminates the stress of worrying about others not doing their part, or lack of competence. This clears the path for full autonomy; each team mate has the confidence to act on his or her own and make decisions when necessary. Everyone also clearly understands when a subject is within the domain of another team mates’s and the best outcome would be reached with their skills. So basically, knowing when a decision is out of your realm and not yours to make. See how autonomy and trust are one big circle?
The confidence to act with autonomy leads to invested decision-making. With an accountability-based values system, decision makers take ownership of the outcomes.
Invested decisions mean the individual truly cares about the outcomes — the impact on the product, the team and finally the self.
For accountability to be upheld, teammates carry the responsibility hold each other accountable for actions. Negative outcomes happen — and they are always discussed and used as a lesson learned to improve. The team goal is always to be our best self, as one and as individuals.
In my next post Part 2 of my peak team efficiency series I will talk about Distributed Cognition — what it is and why it is critical for your team’s success.