Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Importance of Teamwork

What a cliché title that is. Unfortunately, I just couldn't come up with anything that was short, witty and as descriptive of the subject matter of this blog entry. Time and time again, teamwork has proven to be the most invaluable and yet undervalued resource. My college curriculum, great as it was, tended to focus on individual projects. The idea was that group projects encouraged laziness on the part of some allowing them to skate through the class without learning the material. To a certain degree that fear is realistic. But it also handicaps many graduates who end up working for companies where group projects are the only way to get things done.

With my former employer, I did not get into any major projects requiring the skills of multiple people. Most of my projects were small and specialized and could be accomplished in just a few months time by myself. But upon arrival at my current employer, it was clear that I had to throw out the old rules. My task was to give them a portal for our members that worked and there was no way I could learn a platform, much less an industry that was entirely new for me, in just a few months.

So I enlisted the help of analysts, data integrators and others from departments as varied as marketing. My address book quickly became quite the motley collection of contacts. But the synergy that developed between us enabled much more than just a quick turnaround on what seemed an impossible deadline. It created something that I had only dreamed of.

Nobody likes to see their work lambasted and I had to bite my lip several times when criticisms were aimed at what I thought were great ideas. Yet by incorporating this feedback into the product, I gained not only a better product but a group of people ready to evangelize the other departments on the quality and usability of it. For me, this automatic buy-in from the people on the team was quite the shock. It makes sense in retrospect but was not something I had personally experienced before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"My college curriculum, great as it was, tended to focus on individual projects." - same here. I totally agree that teamwork is one of the most valuable resources and yet extremely undervalued. I guess colleges have to do it to counteract cheating, but then they should still have more focus on teamwork. I would also recommend checking the following article out on teamwork, it makes a very good read and is useful and informative. Highly recommended: