Be united

Lately I observed a larger group of children on a water playground.

Children were pumping water which flew down in a small river to a dam and later to a mill-wheel or the water could take a different way to another pump. To make the mill-wheel move, it was necessary to impound a certain amount of water.

The goal was set (by the children themselves) to make the mill-wheel move by the water. Basically there were 4 points of action:
  • Pump water
  • Set a switch point to go to other pump or versus the mill-wheel
  • dam (open or close)
  • Mill-wheel
As we left, the group of children has not been able so far to get the mill-wheel turned by the water.

Major reasons:
  1. Uncoordinated action.
  2. Several group members following different directives / having different goals.
  3. Egoism and greed.
  4. Missing patience.

Some wanted the dam to be closed and others wanted to see the water flowing, some wanted to play with the other pump and started to quarrel about how to put the switch. Although one had the great idea to put the switch in the middle so that half of the water went to both sides, there was always somebody who moved the switch trying to get all the water.

Does this remind you to something?

When they are adults, their brains are developed enough to handle more complex situations but the basic behaviour will not change.

In large companies and larger projects you can observe the same as what I described above.

How to get over this:
  • Have clear responsibilities. The less people working on the same thing the better.
  • Split into smaller groups/teams where continuous alignment of directives and goals is possible.
  • The character and philosophy of the people working together, is important because their personal goals derive from that. So discuss strategies to get a team where everybody is convinced about the decisions.
  • In the long-run you should satisfy the need of all parties/customers/partners, so they can trust you to solve their issues. That is the challenge of a team leader...
  • Withdraw stress wherever possible. The stressed person will concentrate on self and develop egoistic inner directives.
Related posts: Replace constraint with freedom, Show respect to the team.


Fiona said...

Thank you for writing such good posts! I really like your blog. I'd like to go into the IT field myself when I graduate from college. I'm benefiting a lot from your blogs.


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Anonymous said...

Yes, I do agree with your points. I would like to add some of mine. I think we should have clarity because clarity is power. If the kids were told what they want, then we can separate them to different areas of what they want. However, this can be influence as herd mentality exist everywhere. So, some kids may not aired out their wants as they have to conform to the herd just like how adults are.


Martin Wildam said...

Thanks for mentioning clarity. Clarity is an important thing - worth a post on its own.

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