Monday, 3 June 2013

Business learning from walking: 4. Teamwork trumps individual heroism

Walking alone is as about much fun as doing a change project on your own. Even if you like your own company, working alongside others will enhance the process in both cases. Sometimes it's enough on a walk to have someone to chat with, to help you put a blister on the heel of your foot or to give you a second opinion on the choice of path to take.

Walking in a group is a bit like working in a project team. You go at the pace of the slowest - there's no point in rushing ahead to a milestone to then sit and wait for someone to catch up. It's far easier to support the slower person as you go along as it may increase their confidence and fitness. Same goes for project teams.

The "hero" who strides ahead and out of sight of the group is no hero at all.

The Isle of Wight Coastal path is a moving feast and as we gathered on a group walk recently, it is collapsing  on a daily basis. Out group was faced with a section of path that had fallen away leaving no clear route forward. Do we retrace our steps (see previous post) or find a way around? One member of te group who has climbing experience assessed the risks and found a way for us to clamber around holding onto a fence while he supported us from underneath! It was not very dignified, but it worked and we were soon continuing down the path, adrenaline leaving us slightly elated.

Change projects will reach those points where it seems impossible to go on. Things happen that could not have been predicted. That's the time to check the skills of the group. If you can help then it's time to step up and take the lead. Assessing the risks is important.

Teamwork means giving up some control, allowing others to take the lead as their skills fit the task, and giving each other the physical, intellectual and emotional support required to reach the agreed goal.

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