Simplicity as key to success
In one of my former positions, I was working in Controlling of Global Strategic Programs of a large German company in ICT (information and communication technology) branch. Some day I got the idea of a Knowledge Management System that could actually affect the Team-Spirit. The challenge in our Team was to include colleagues from different locations in Germany, but there were Tools for working connected together already available within the company. I talked to my boss about this. He appreciated the idea and gave me directly the task to implement it.
The idea generally is very simple, like most successful ideas. When the principle and the execution are simple, an idea is on the best way to succeed. The simplicity of the idea increases the acceptance. Think about what made the search engine Google® or the Mac Book® from Apple® successful for so many years already. The product is easy and intuitive to handle. This is why my basic thought about it was: Keep it simple and easy understandable. Make everyone being part of it. Make it a Team Solution, a product for and from everyone.
Democratically defining the topic
The Tools used were a Desktop sharing software, a shared hard drive (nowadays called cloud), Telephones (would be better with Skype®), Microsoft Excel® and Microsoft PowerPoint®.
At first, I developed a democratic topic definition tool in Microsoft Excel®. Each team member should enter topics he knows much about and / or even better: Topics he is passionate about. Everyone who is interested in a special Topic can always add this to the list (the presenting person can an Expert from within or outside of the Team). These topics can be about work or technique or also a hobby, like coaching, actor lessons, a standard process at work or whatever else you can think about. The entering person adds his name, in case there are questions about a topic in advance and whether he / she wants to present it.
The following column allows the categorization of the topics. Each team member gives a mark of importance to each topic within his own column. At the end is a column calculating the average mark and one column defining the topics’ ranking. The File-Admin noted each finished presentation as “Done” in the File. (the whole row automatically colored to green) and the ranking column does not include it anymore. The Table-Format automatically recognized lines with missing evaluations and coloured not completed lines in yellow. We saved the file on the cloud.
Everyone presents the topic he is responsible for. We limited the maximum duration to a 15 minutes presentation with a 15 minutes discussion afterwards. Big topics were divided into more than one presentation (part 2) with different focus. The order of presentations was defined by the calculated rank. After each presentation, we defined the next weeks’ topic. A short term of notice was required, as the topic list developed further continuously. We prepared the presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint® and presented in a phone conference with a desktop sharing tool, as the team-Member were working in different locations around Germany. After a presentation, we archived each topics’ presentation on the cloud, in a folder (categorized by topics). We noted the directory within the central Excel file.
This system is a cheap solution. Our whole team learned about new topics and gets things to talk about. It grew together and the members talked about the solution to other teams with the result that they asked for more details and implemented the solution within their team as well.
At the End: Knowledge brings the Team together
As usual when you want to change something: You need to invest an initial Energy in the Beginning. If you do not stand fully behind the idea and / or cannot convince the team to change, than has not even this Solution a chance (read also about Teaming and Leading as well as how to make your Team even more successful or the fire of Innovation on Coachiendo).
Each enhancement needs a change. A Change is always the break of a routine. Every time anyone has to change anything, it needs an initial energy, a step above a hurdle to achieve the step forward / an enhancement. On this solution, each team member has to invest some time into preparing the presentation. At the end, for us, each presentation was a success. We got to know us and understood us better and developed knowledge in different topics as well as our presentation skills. We learned about each other by simply investing half an hour a week as a team in building the team and the knowledge. Our Team was great and we worked even closer and closer together presentation after presentation.
Team-Building can boost Team-Spirit and Team-Smartness
Simple solutions can bring great changes. Great changes that enhance cooperation and the team feeling. The starting energy can result in changes at work and rewards at the end. The secret is not only to think and talk about changes, but also to implement changes. Changing means going different. Difference can bring enhancement.
From my point of view, one well-known sentence brings it to the point:
Who does not want to become better anymore (doing changes / enhancements / optimizations), finally stops being good, because others change and the old good is not good enough anymore.
As you see: You can democratically develop the Group to a Team that is understanding each other better and works better together. Knowledge, Experience and Spirit will be boosted to new formats. You can increase the Creativity and Motivation of each Team-Member. You will push the understanding within the Team to new levels. All you have to invest is half an hour per week for everyone and a bit extra-time of the presenter for a topic he loves. You can easily implement this weekly Team-Building half-hour.