When the Stars Align …
I have been loving the recent NASA photos of our solar system and it has had me thinking about systems at work, especially in teams.
I’m sure there must be a Star Trek episode (or two or three) that deals with “leveraging the wisdom of the system.” The phrase is right down its alley. The concept of everyone’s input having value is in line with the lessons that the show teaches. Nine times out of ten, the crew of the Enterprise works together, with an unexpected voice bringing up an essential part of the solution, to achieve something important to them all.
How do you build that kind of alignment in your team? How do you make sure that everyone has a voice? You don’t have to go to the “final frontier” to solve this. It’s a solution that involves the entire team.
I was an early convert to this thought. As the Chief of an IT organization in the 1980s, I was often given people who weren’t working out in other organizations. There was an unspoken belief that anyone could do computer system administration. While this wasn’t true, what I discovered is that everyone who joined the team was able to add value.
It wasn’t magic. It took time and patience… and it was a team effort. It began with clarity around mission – everyone knew they were critical to successful operations of the whole organization. This was bolstered by senior members mentoring junior members to help them discover and expand areas of expertise. We brought everyone together to solve problems – celebrating wins and examining failures. The end result was a team that could be counted on to work through crises, with everyone leaning on–and supporting–one another. Everyone saw themselves as part of the whole.
I can’t stress enough the benefits of a team where everyone is aligned and has a voice. Too often, we fall into our familiar patterns, and it takes a “lone voice” to question them. Creating an environment where that lone voice is comfortable speaking up will pay dividends.
This Week: Have conversations with your team. Ask for suggestions and really listen to what comes up. Be curious on the why. There is always room for improvement and greater alignment.
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