Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: A book review by Bob Morris

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee: The Imperative of Teams
Simon Mac Rory
LID Publishing Limited (September 2018)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
African Proverb

All healthy organizations have a culture within which communication, cooperation, and — especially — collaboration are most likely to thrive. However different these organizations may be in most respects, all of them nourish teamwork at all levels and in all areas.

According to Simon Mac Rory,”There is no question that, when properly deployed, teamwork is extremely powerful and drives many benefits for both the individual and the organization. This creates an imperative for organizations to take the issue of teamwork in a more serious and focused manner.” Among the many benefits are a substantial increase of efficiency, innovation, and creativity as well as an enhanced working environment with minimal risk and greater development of learning and talent.

There are valuable business lessons to be learned from great teams that include the Disney animators who created several classics (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi), the Manhattan Project, Lockheed’s “Skunk Works,” and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).  When conducting workshops on teamwork, I also cite the hospital ER from which valuable business lessons can also be learned.

I agree with Mac Rory about the importance of a concept called corporate team strategy (CTS), one that is a strategy separate to all other people strategies. “It is about understanding what, why, and how teams are deployed into the organization and how they are supported. It is about understanding the difference between team types — traditional, project, teaming work groups (TWGs) and virtual teams. It is about how you select for teams (e.g. are the attributes of team members the same for the traditional team and the virtual team?) A CTS is about deploying a team assessment methodology and a team model that create an environment for reflexivity for teams.”

These are among the passages of greatest interest to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Mac Rory’s coverage:

o Millennials (Generation Y) and The new organization — designed for purpose ( Pages 20-27)
o Table 2: Comparison of a professional football team and a work team (36)
o Psychological safety (53-58)
o Team-based assessment (61-64)

o Determining a model (75-85)
o Figure 4: The four basic team types (89)
o The traditional team (101)
o The project team (113)

o The virtual team (125)
o TMG (teaming work group) Page 135
o Goal and Role Clarity (141-148 and 149-156)
o Commitment and Communication (175-181 and 182-189)

o Planning and Evaluation (191-197 and 198-204)
o Conflict (215-222)
o Table 20: Team composition characteristics (227)
o Table 21: Team organization characteristics (234)

There is wisdom in the African proverb quoted earlier but its relevance to effective teams is ultimately determined by several factors that include chemistry, temperament, mutual trust and respect, work ethic, and a passion to help find the answers to difficult questions and the solutions to serious problems.

As Simon Mac Rory notes, about 90% of the work completed in an organization today is the result of collaboration. In this brilliant book, he provides just about everything that anyone needs to know about how collaboration can complete more and better work in less time — and for a lower cost — than would otherwise be possible.  This collaboration could involve human beings, machines, or a combination of both. In the most efficient and most productive organizations, collaboration is more, much more, than a strategy; it is a way of life. Only teamwork can accelerate personal growth and professional development.

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