Saturday, October 11, 2014

Teambuilding Is an Essential Skill for Managerial Success; Steve Jobs Provides the Perfect Allegory

Photo: Flemming Island. Pedersen / Danish Sailing Association.
Effective managers are out of their office every day interacting with others in their organizations. They understand that they can’t progress and accomplish goals without teamwork. They are prepared to listen, learn, and share because they realize that they do not have all the answers. Teambuilding therefore is an essential skill every manager needs to be successful.

Steve Jobs provides the perfect allegory for teambuilding in an interview with Robert Cringely as part of the 1996 PBS special “Triumph of the Nerds.” 

Jobs tells the story of when he was a kid. An old man who lived up the street one day invited him to come into his garage, “… he pulled out this dusty old rock tumbler. It was a motor and a coffee can and a little band between them. And he said, “come on with me.” We went out into the back and we got just some rocks. Some regular old ugly rocks. And we put them in the can with a little bit of liquid and little bit of grit powder, and we closed the can up and he turned this motor on and he said, ‘come back tomorrow.’

“And this can was making a racket as the stones went around.

“And I came back the next day, and we opened the can. And we took out these amazingly beautiful polished rocks. The same common stones that had gone in, through rubbing against each other like this (clapping his hands), creating a little bit of friction, creating a little bit of noise, had come out these beautiful polished rocks.

“That’s always been in my mind my metaphor for a team working really hard on something they’re passionate about. It’s that through the team, through that group of incredibly talented people bumping up against each other, having arguments, having fights sometimes, making some noise, and working together they polish each other and they polish the ideas, and what comes out are these really beautiful stones.”

When done correctly, teams working together enrich their organizations, all its members, including managers too

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green