What are the best practices for teaming up to provide solutions to unique everyday problems and overcoming the challenges? With the analogy of a sports team, winning requires the same team members over time to practice consistently. Sports teams embody the definition of a team; a stable, bounded group of individuals who are interdependent in achieving a shared goal. Every day, the world is faced with work that is complex and unpredictable, requiring grand scale teaming. Professional clash is the main hindrance that can prevent successful teamwork from taking place. With different jargon, values and time frame, how can professional culture clash be overcome?

1. Perseverance

To ensure successful teamwork, failures in the task at hand must be persevered, people must be humble in the face of the challenge ahead, willing to take risks in order to learn fast and remain curious about what the other person has to bring to the table. One must also not underestimate the slow and painful process of progress and growth. Leadership is a major factor that can ensure the success of any project or operation.

2. Humility and curiosity

Situational humility and curiosity leads to psychological safety. Psychological safety enables one to speak up and offer ideas and take risks in the presence of other strangers that they are working with. The basic human challenge that presents itself when one is trying to solve a problem is that “It is hard to learn if you already know.” To overcome this, one has to remain curious about what others can bring to the table which in turn brings about generosity of interpretation. It is hard to team up with people when one sees them as competitors.

3. Intuition; Know when to compete and when to team up

Although a little competition is perfectly healthy, it is important to know when to apply it and when to team up with others, to give rise to solutions. For example, a team was working on a demo for a smart city but could not complete the project six years in. They were unable to overcome the professional culture clash to achieve their desired outcome. In contrast is a case study of remarkable team work demonstrated by the disaster that occurred in San Jose, Northern Chile on the 5th of August in 2010. The challenge of 33 men being trapped half a mile below hard stone with meagre resources to sustain them presented itself. After days of experimentation and trying different techniques, the team working together on this challenge was able to drill a small hole to pass food, medicine, and communication on the 17th day. They then teamed up and pulled the miners out on the 69th day, one by one, over 22hours. This is the perfect example of what putting aside creative and professional differences can achieve.

4. Strength in numbers

Amy Edmondson (2017) in her ted talk gives this final yet powerful advise, “Look to your left then look to your right. How quickly can you find the unique talents, skills, and hopes of your neighbor and convey what you bring? For us to team up and build the future we know we can create, none of us can do it alone.”

Owing to the fast paced nature of today’s world, there are going to be such grand challenges that require equally grand solutions and for people to come together and work as team. Team work on the fly will often be required whereby one has to coordinate and collaborate with people of all kinds, expertise, distance and time zone to get work done.

Reference: Amy Edmondson’s Ted Talk, “How to turn a group of strangers into a team”

By Wanjiru Muhoro | Writer

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