Why Do We Do It That Way?

The power of collective awareness in remodelling our teams

In men’s soccer, 35% of goals are scored from corners, free kicks and throw-ins.

But despite the fact that over one-third of their goals come from set pieces, most teams spend 10-or-so minutes at the end of training practicing these elements of the game. It’s often treated as a glorified warm down, and a chance to have a bit of a laugh with the lads.

If your company was making 35% of its revenue from a particular product, I dare say you’d alter your behavior to start allocating 35% of your time towards nurturing that product.

So why is soccer coaching any different?

In this example, convention is standing in the way of progress. Or worse, “This is the way a training session has always been run” is standing in the way of a potential competitive advantage.

Image: CNN International

But it’s not just about using data to better align what we spend time on — it’s deeper than that. It’s about catching ourselves in the act of allowing convention to continue when there are alternatives that may give us an edge.

The good news is, as the self awareness and consciousness movements continue to spread in pop culture, we are learning valuable skills that can help us. Mindfulness, self-reflection, and self-awareness are individual skills that can also be extended to recognize team behaviors that might be detrimental to our performance.

We can call them collective awareness, and collective consciousness, and they look something like this:

Why are we acting and behaving like this? 
Is there a better way we can approach this? 
How are we feeling as a group?

In today’s average company, up to 80% of employees’ days are spent working in teams. Yet, most corporate managers treat team activities and team dynamics as flippantly as soccer coaches treat set piece practice.

We think a team activity is an evening at the bar together, and we think team dynamics is bringing in a leadership consultant to run a seminar. Both are untrue.

A recent report by consulting firm McKinsey noted that “despite the dramatic changes in the way people work, the organizations in which they carry out that work have changed much less than might be expected. Today’s large organizations do very little to enhance the productivity of their professionals.”

Our companies, like those soccer coaches, are stuck using the default mode of the generation before us. But it’s not just up to managers to recognize and rectify these patterns, it’s up to all of us. After all, we’re a collective and we’re stronger together.

Start asking:

Why do our meetings have 18 people in them? 
Can our communication be crisper? 
Why are our bonuses individual instead of shared?

We can remodel the workplace simply by being collectively conscious. We can revamp soccer training by being intentional with our collective time. And we can continue to gain a competitive edge by remaining collectively aware.

Self awareness is great, but collective awareness is better.

Consider: What’s conventions are you sticking to that are ineffective, inefficient, or not serving your overall purpose?