Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trust, Teamwork and Collaboration - Real but difficult for big data to define

March began with the MIT Sloan sports conference in Boston. The era of sports analytics continues to explode as leagues and teams deploy technology in places never before seen. Schutt football helmets now have cameras built into the helmet. The NBA now tracks player movement , taking speed and location measurements that were never practical in past eras.

Bruce Temkin, writing in his Customer Experience Matters blog, had some very interesting takeaways from attending the MIT Sloan conference. Among the most notable of Bruce's highlight list was #17 - "Team chemistry remains a mystery." As a coach and educator, I am both fascinated and not surprised by this thinking. I have been blessed to play and coach on good and bad teams and, of course, know team chemistry is real. What has to drive the measurement gurus crazy is the alchemy of great teams and work groups - collections of people who's individual talents don't add up to the great results they produce. 

The tendency in today's measure and rate all things era is to conclude that the biggest, fastest, most accurate individuals will form the best sports team. Likewise, off the courts and fields, if measurements are valid, people with the highest test scores and specialized knowledge should be able to gather and solve all challenges. However, great performances and discoveries often come from great collaboration and trust amongst groups of people who above all, work well together.

Fastcompany has several articles this week that offer glimpses of these work environments. Author Linda Dishman explores the role of collaboration and incremental innovation in the article What Stanford's Startup Garage Teaches Us About Invention and Innovation . Former Pixar and Disney Animation executive Ed Catmull offers instructive thoughts about the role of trust and building on success and failure in an article titled Pixar's Ed Catmull on How Disney Found its Way to a Hit with Frozen . Catmull discusses how success is dependent on a culture of honest feedback and helping each other work through problems. How do we deal with mistakes and failure as individuals and organizations?

In this measurement and "we must hold people accountable" world, why does accountability = firing and running off the knowledge and wisdom gained during a try that didn't work as planned. I find it interesting that creative organizations thrive on having teams generate rapid prototypes and also expect they will have to be revised many, many times.

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