On a sailing boat, the captain gives detailed instructions to the crew before departure. Every sailor knows what they are doing and what their responsibilities are. Everything goes the way it’s supposed to, every move proves skill. They pull together. They literally pull together when the sail is hoisted by a collective effort. What’s important to know is that it’s not fuel or muscle power that propels them forward, it’s the wind that they catch to move forward. That’s why they need to check the weather before they leave port to see what they can expect en route.
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How do teams work today?
In today’s VUCA work environment (VUCA is an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity), expectations, customer demands and even internal processes and systems change faster than the weather on the high seas. For the teams, this means routine is scarce, colleagues need to tune in and organise themselves again and again, and to do this they need to give each other constant feedback. For teams with mixed cultures, the challenge is even greater.
In harbour or on the high seas?
Where is your team now? Are you still anchored in the harbour? Are you a colourful congregation whose members hardly know each other? Is one sailor eyeing the other suspiciously? This is the Forming phase. Or are you already arguing about who will have the best cabin and who will have to scrub the deck? Then it’s the storming-norming phase, a time of clashes and the creation of common rules. Could it be that you’re already cruising upwind with a crew training for the championship (Performing and adjourning phase)?
Start working with the team where they are at
If you have a new or emerging team, you need to focus differently than when working with a well-prepared and established team whose performance you just need to polish.
No matter where you are now, together we’ll figure out where to go next!