Book Review: Rapid Teamwork

July 25th 2016

5 Essential Steps to Transform Any Group into a GREAT Team
rapid teamwork - book review

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Author: Sean Glaze

I love fables for making a point and I like how much easier it is to connect with the characters, to engage in the book, and to ultimately learn something from it.  I’ve read some other great fables such as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Goal and I really enjoyed this one as well.  Rapid Teamwork wasn’t quite as breakthrough in the guidance and story as those examples but hits on a great topic, teamwork and does it in a setting where the teamwork isn’t all that bad in the first place, but not nearly as good as it CAN be.

The story is about a manager, Greg Sharpe, who’s quickly thrown into a new challenge to take his team to an offsite rafting trip for some ‘unconventional’ lessons to learn.  Sharpe’s new boss and mediocre business performance have him rather worried on on edge, but realizes through the teaching from the guide during the trip, what he and his executive team need to do to become highly productive and with stronger relationships and unity in their workplace.

The 5 Essential Steps

  1. Goals and Gear
  2. Rapport and Relationships
  3. Expectations and Encouragements
  4. Accountability and Adjustments
  5. Toasts and Transfer

These steps are not just described like many self help books, but instead experienced by Sharpe and his executive team during their rafting adventure.  Their guide expertly teaches them as their experience unfolds on the waters and they all seem to realize how the steps can make a real difference for them as a team.

Overall, I think the book is great. Its a pretty short read, teaches valuable lessons and the adventure of rafting is one I could quickly relate to.  My adventurous spirit hoped for much more excitement and descriptions of the events on the water but nothing will compare to reading the Emerald Mile for a water adventure book. Perhaps a lot of people think that these type of “offsite teambuilding” events can be a bit cliche and unsuccessful in the real world, and while I don’t disagree, I do know they depend highly on a skilled coach / guide or teacher to make them work, and this book shows an example of that, where it just works.  I’ve experienced some of the same teambuilding, so I know there are many such events that do work.

Anyway, if you’ve needing or wanting to understand how you can improve your own team, I’d recommend grabbing this one for your next flight or session out in your hammock (which you should have one, by the way, haha).

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | Comments Off on Book Review: Rapid Teamwork

Book Review: The Orange Revolution

December 22nd 2010

How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

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Author : Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

First off, I have to say I love the topic of scientific animations.  There are however many books on the subject of change that give unfounded advice and tips and anecdotes from personal experience that is not then easily applied to other situations.  This book is quite the opposite of that and I am happy to say this book is based entirely on data for its conclusions and everything in it is backed up by a huge 350,000 person survey that was used to identify the characteristics and behaviors of the most effective teams.  That is the other element of this book that makes it so wonderful, all of the aspects of change are from the perspective of teams and teamwork in organization and it is easily the best book I’ve read on the subject so far.  The authors Gostick and Elton clearly outline their findings and how they break down great teams into specific actions that can not only easily be understood, but replicated since it covers the behaviors of what they do and how they act, instead of their opinions or thoughts on the subject by themselves. The book has a wide range of team topics and it reinforces some of the best practices, which the authors call the basic 4 plus recognition, which are:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • +Recognition

With each of these areas, there are short point form lists of specific actions that people on breakthrough teams do for each of the 4+ areas.  I found these lists to be extremely valuable and a great resource for considering performance, creating regular feedback to encourage and excellent measures for any transformational team.  Beyond the basics and these excellent examples of each of those elements, I also really how there is a strong focus though the book on what you can do to actually cultivate a team.  This is immensely valuable for any leader and it was explored in a variety of ways to help you gain a high level of engagement from everyone in the team.  There are 3 basic concepts behind the breakthrough teams in the research and they are:

  • Wow – One word that describes everything from excellence and high standards to impressing customers do more than is expected
  • No Surprises – All team members are involved understanding expectations, having open debates and sharing ideas with everyone.
  • Cheer – The team fully supports and roots for each other, appreciating great work and encouraging the best.

From the research, Gostick and Elton cite many worldly examples and they develop their case well with these examples of exceptional teamwork and results.  Overall, I was pleasantly impressed reading the book, pleased to see many of the examples and activities occurring in my own workplace and I’m happy to have learned many new techniques for enhancing my own team and organization.  I am impressed by their writing and thoroughly enjoyed the book and I recommend it to anyone leading a team, interested in leading a team or any managers or executives with influence about the culture or teamwork occurring in their organization.  For a sample of Gostick and Elton’s writing, you can see the guest post they authored here a couple months back called, Risky Business: It’s One Way to Build a Breakthrough Team.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

Fun in the Workplace

July 14th 2010

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to have a LOT of fun and that I really don’t take day to day life all that seriously. I can definitely put in some focused attention and get the job done and while I do that often, I don’t let it happen without any element of fun.  Fun is something I think so many people are lacking in life and its especially true about the workplace.  Many workplaces are places of sterile positioning and power struggles that you can’t just work together as a team, have fun doing it and still make great accomplishments.  In fact, I challenge you with the statement that any workplace that has fun doing their work, will get a lot more done because of the engagement between people and simply because people enjoy their work more when it is something they like to do.

Fun in the workplace comes in many flavors and obviously what I consider fun won’t necessarily be the exact fit for you or your workplace but my examples and suggestions here can easily serve as ideas for building your own fun work environment.  Not surprisingly, most elements of fun in the workplace require some imagination and fortunately, imagination and fun both lead to more innovation and ideas sharing among co-workers.  This is one of the many great impacts fun has on an organization as well, especially in one where design, innovation and new ideas are an important part of the company’s success.  It certainly is in mine and so fun brings even more than its most obvious personal benefits by also encouraging the visual and imaginative mind to do more than what is required for day to day tasks.

Elements of Fun

Personal enjoyment

Everyone wishes their jobs to be something they enjoy and fun adds an element that creates that feeling of enjoyment.  If the workplace is fun, you will ultimately like your work more and put more effort into it and be happier with the job. A good job helps make a person happy and can add a lot of fulfillment and personal enjoyment to a person’s life.

Sparks creativity and imagination

Fun in the workplace can come in many forms and many of those, such as humor, games, jokes, competitions, interesting challenges or systems with prizes require new ways of thinking, wit or cleverness, teamwork or challenge and other activities that trigger new ideas, thinking and creative work. Many people simply consider anything creative to be fun (I’m one of those people) so tasks that involve these elements are often close associated or even sparking new creativity, innovation and imagination among those involved.

Can be a strong change proponent

So fun will trigger people to think about have more fun, often improving systems and processes or tasks along the way to make them both effective and fun in the process. This creativity is a wonderful partner to fun when it triggers ideas and rally’s support for change.  Change is scary to many people and so making change part of something that is enjoyable takes the fear out of it and it helps to support the change instead of add fear to it.  The ideas that come from fun programs then often encourage or reinforce even more change and it can continue to feed on itself if the systems are dynamic enough to let fun steer some of the work tasks and processes.

Engages teams and cross functional teams more easily

Most things that are fun in the workplace will only be successful if they are done with multiple people and when people have a chance to work together or compete with one another doing it.  Many of the systems and programs I’ve seen that are fun are when multiple departments or teams come together.  This can be anything from team building exercizes or job sharing to competitions or social events.  Activities that bring people together from multiple areas that do not generally work together are more social, and even if the activities are entirely work focused, the new social aspect is fun, and engages people more than without these activities in place.  And its this engagement between teams then that really starts to benefit the organization as the company works more and more integrated among its people instead of in silos or separate areas.

Builds personal relationships faster for more effective teamwork

The engagement between teams just above obviously happens within teams as well and the advantage of this is that personal relationships are build faster among teams when they are having more fun in their work.  People interact more and communicate much more frequently during fun activities and ultimately, when they know each other better.  People with closer relationships understand one another well and can be much more effective as a team than people who do not know each other well.  This is the case in all areas of life and it works well in the workplace as well.  Fun in the workplace is simply an element that can encourage this to happy and provide the environment needed to allow effective teamwork.

Increases employee loyalty and lengthens employee service time

People who are happy doing something tend to do more of it or to do it longer and so this is certainly true when it comes to work.  If you like your job and work because you have a lot of fun doing it, you are more likely to stay. People who are more likely to stay, will provide more value to an organization through gained expertise, strong relationships and teamwork with colleagues and by reducing overall training time and learn curve ratios compared to their delivered results.  All can be had by using fun in the workplace to keep wanting to stay!

Examples of Fun in the Workplace

These are just some of the things I have experienced in my work environments or know of that help to promote a fun work environment:

  • Encouraging and allowing people to personalize their workspace with personal items, signs, posters, favorite team jerseys, flags, objects, gadjets or any other simply items.
  • Keeping formalities out of day to day business and making daily communication informal, interesting and lively.
  • Ensuring that staff meetings and group meetings are upbeat, lively and exciting.  Leaders must bring energy and enthusiasm to their teams and make it obvious and visible.
  • Diverse personality types is advantageous for many reasons, but especially for adding fun, since you get more variety in the type of people working together when you have a mix of personality or behavior types.
  • Managers and leaders must allow and promote fun themselves so that all employees know it is not only allowed, but encouraged.
  • Jokes and humorous stories should be regularly available by postings, newsletters, and in scheduled meetings.
  • Create and support an active social club to organize events, games and sports for all to participate in outside of work.
  • Have the social club coordinate monthly social lunches and BBQs.
  • Encourage simple, harmless practical jokes around the office
  • Use team names and nick names for people based on their work or areas of expertise
  • Play on people’s reputation with words, encouragement and tactful teasing
  • Ensure high amounts of teamwork without individuals becoming too self situated in their roles
  • Rotate job functions within teams to experience varying styles and personalities in repetitive tasks

Risks with Fun in the Workplace

There are of course some risks with adding more fun in the workplace and while they should not be ignored, they can easily be mitigated and controlled.  The most easily occurring risk could be that jokes and practical jokes get out of hand or unprofessional.  It is very important to know that any humor must be clean and clean from any prejudice, racism or sexism.  If this is monitored and correctly quickly when it is visible at any level, the humor can be kept professional and fun without the risk of hurting feelings or attacking anyone’s character.

Another obvious risk is that fun can be a distraction to actually getting work done and it can sometimes seem like a waste of time where pressing deadlines and tight schedules just don’t allow any time for fun.  I’d definitely argue against this thought process since I’ve seen how much more productive people are (including myself) at times of stress when there is some fun still to be had in the workplace.  The ratio of time to let the workplace be more fun instead of stagnant, is well worth the small number of hours lost considering the increased productivity, loyalty and imagination that the fun aspects of work bring out in people.  The benefits easily outweigh the risks and with attention and clear expectations about fun and time spent having fun in the workplace, it can properly be managed and encouraged to make all employees enjoy their work a little bit more!

Posted by Mike King under Business | 4 Comments »

Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

October 26th 2006

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Category: Books
Genre: Business & Investing
Author: Patrick Lencioni

A compelling thought-provoking story that successfully demonstrates that a leader must make progress through a team and not alone. Lencioni unveils and clearly outlines the major problems that keep even the best teams from getting to their maximum potential. He shows clearly how to identify, address and resolve the main dysfunctions through a compelling story that is realistic and gripping.

The book itself is very easy to read and certainly worth every minute. Its to the point, definitely applicable and fun to read. I’d highly recommend it!

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

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