'Teaming on the fly'
Harvard Business School’s Professor Amy Edmondson has studied hundreds of organisational responses to such challenges to understand the mindset and behaviours that allow diverse groups of people to come together with no prior plan, and to collaborate and learn as they meet the challenges before them. She calls this process ‘teaming on the fly’, and emphasises framing the challenges in positive terms and making learning a central part of the work.
One example was the San Jose mining disaster in Chile in 2010, where 33 miners were trapped 2,000 feet underground. They had two days’ worth of food and their chances of survival were put at less than 10 per cent. And yet 70 days later, all the men were rescued alive, thanks to strong teamwork and leadership.
Putting it into practice
Based on Edmondson’s work, we think there are three things that everyone, and especially leaders, can do to ‘team on the fly’ more effectively.
- Let go of the need to have all the answers – freeing yourself from feeling you should know everything may free others to pitch in to collective problem-solving; this may help you all feel more in control.
- Make some time to connect, even if it’s briefly, and get to know your new teammates, what they bring and how they can contribute – they may surprise you.
- Be curious and welcome curiosity to make it easier for people to share their ideas and concerns, and worry less about hierarchy or what people will think of each other.
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