Team Collaboration

Tony Schwartz on David Allen, simplicity, and productivity

The Power of Deceptive Simplicity - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

Tony Schwartz on David Allen this morning in HBR:

It's not my goal to teach you David's system, but rather to bring your attention to the breathtaking insight at its core, which is this: If you're not acting on something that's on your mind, it's consuming time, energy and precious space in your brain that you could be using to do richer and more productive thinking. Or as David puts it, "You'll need to get in the habit of keeping nothing on your mind."

This comes from a piece by Schwartz covering Allen for a series in HBR on being more productive. While much of Allen's work revolves around individual productivity, I've found the concepts are absolutely apt for teams and committees to keep focus and attention on what matters. Schwartz has distilled the intent of the simplicity in the Getting Things Done approach.

In general, teams that are most successful in delivering results on big change projects have created and adopted processes that reduce complexity, encourage participation, and are easy to access. Schwartz's post this morning is a terrific reminder that very often, it's the simple approach that underlies focus, attention, and productivity.

Karen Mishra shares five key learnings from Starbucks

Howard Schultz talks a lot about trust… | Total Trust

Karen Mishra sat in on Howard Schultz's webcast today and pulled five great points from the Starbucks experience that can serve as a guide for each of us. This one struck me:

5) Customers want to buy from companies whose values are like their own, so customers will buy from Starbucks because they appreciate that Starbucks gives their employees health benefits and that they buy coffee beans at a fair price.  This also builds trust with customers.

The same holds true for all our team transactions, doesn't it? We want to work with -- and perform for -- those for whom we have respect and trust. That relationship is key, and something hard-won. The lessons that come from recent Starbucks leadership experience illustrate a terrific way to set goals and drive toward adoption of new processes and procedures with buy-in. Case in point: baristas have a daily goal: enhance someone's day. If there was ever a focused and appropriate objective for frontline customer service personnel, that's it!

A great (and quick!) read from Mishra to start your day today!

Kimberly Weisul reports on why smart people can make for dumb teams

Why Smart People Make Lousy Teams | BNET

Kimberly Weisul summarizes new research from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Union College on how raw smarts affects teams. A sample of nearly 700 were tasked with puzzles, games, negotiations, and analysis, all to be navigated in teams.

Weisul, on the results:

  • Individual smarts doesn’t affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn’t related to team performance. So if you’ve got a team that’s struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn’t going to help.
  • EQ–emotional intelligence– is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples’ emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.
  • A ’strong’ personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn’t do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows ’stronger’ leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.

As it turns out, smarts are good on teams, but balance is better. This research holds consistent with our real-world experience, that this notion of EQ is often under-rated in team dynamics, and having a focus on balance when constructing a team can pay early dividends in team cohesion and early team wins on large projects.

And yes, as it turns out, the research suggests a strategy for finding this balance. It's the punchline to the story, which we're not going to tell. For that, you'll have to read on!