Achieving Gold is About Teamwork

Mark McGregor

Given that London is currently playing host to the greatest sporting spectacle on earth, I thought it might be a good to time to reflect on the value of and need for teamwork.
Athletes of all nations have come together in the hope of achieving their dreams. For the very few, they will leave London with that most cherished of prizes an Olympic medal; others will leave with tears, knowing that they came so close. But, all will leave knowing that they could never have even managed to compete without the help and support of a great team around them.
Those support teams (including coaches, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and psychotherapists) will have been supported by literally hundreds of other specialists, all dedicated to just one thing – performance – making sure that their athlete or team is in the best position to compete at the highest level, and ensure that their performance is at its peak.
Sometimes in the process arena we can lose sight of performance. We get so wrapped up in the weeds of waste reduction, diagramming, or automation, and so involved with how we think things should be that we forget our only purpose is to help others perform at their highest level. It should never be about what we want or our approaches, but about what they need or how best they would like our help.
When we remember that ours too is a support role and not a starring role, we can change the way we are perceived. People will be more willing to engage with us and to seek our help.
Within the process community we are often our own worst enemy. Not only do we often fail to be part of the valued support team of the organisation, but we spend too much effort fighting among ourselves, arguing over which approach or method is best. Think of your own organisation: how many different groups do you have working on process?
In many large organisations you are likely to at least find the following groups: Quality Teams, Six Sigma Teams, ERP Teams, Risk and Compliance Teams and BPM Teams. Each of these groups is likely to use its own different types of tooling, methods and approaches. Each team believes that they are the ones who can make the difference, and quite often feel their voice is not being listened to enough.
Yet in their own way, each of these groups may actually be causing as much damage as the good they think they are doing. The frustration that people feel with change is very often the result of feeling like everyone is talking at them from different angles at different times, yet nobody is focused on asking them what they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
Conversely, when you spend time talking with senior executives about process they frequently throw their hands in the air, let out a big sigh, and will often say something like "I know that process is important to us, I know that getting it right will improve performance, but it is just too hard to deal with." When quizzed further they usually end up saying that they don’t know which way to turn as everyone they ask tells them a different story.
So, maybe it is about time that we took some lessons from sport and learned to work together smarter and for the benefit of our "athletes". Each of the different schools of process have a piece of value to bring, but just as with sport, each of those parts needs to come together to create a single coordinated approach that focuses on a single purpose: the performance of our organisations and helping them achieve their gold status. The alternative is to leave in tears.