Recently everyone at my company read The Google Way by Bernard Girard as one of the picks for our company book club. It proved to be an interesting read for my entire organization. I have since been intrigued by Google’s unique practices, so yesterday’s article in Inc. about team building caught my eye.
Google was faced with a puzzle: just like many of us they focused on hiring, developing, and evaluating individuals, overlooking the dynamics of the team as a whole and maximizing the way they work together. Google’s People Operations department studied and interviewed their sales and engineering organizations to come up with five dynamics that distinguish effective teams at Google. You can find the full article including the five dynamics here.
I have long believed that teams are central to transformation and achievement. Never underestimate the value of a team experience, even after the team is disbanded. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Hugh Gouldthorpe, co-author of I’ve Always Looked Up To Giraffes
“Ain’t none of us as good as all of us.” Hugh provided me with an example of this adage. He told me that sometimes, when he visits his company’s distribution centers, he gives everyone a sheet of paper with a heading that reads, “The ABCs of Teamwork,” with 25 C’s going down the left side of the page. He asks each person to come up with as many characteristics of good teamwork as possible that start with the letter C. The most any one person usually gets in three to five minutes is 15 to 17 words. In a group of 30 people, he divides them into six teams and asks them to come up with as many words as possible. In three to five minutes, the list of 17 becomes 30. Next he combines the group into three teams of 10 each, and finally into one team of 30. During the process, the list increases to more than 200 words. Hugh’s point is that no one can think of everything and come up with all the answers.
Individuals don’t win; teams do.