The Force Multiplier Effect: Part 3
Maximizing! Optimizing! Leveraging! We all hear these terms strewn about as if they were the solution to all our problems and they might be. But pause and ask yourself, “Just what is it that I am attempting to maximize, optimize, and leverage?”
The answer must be people.
- You cannot maximize a return on investment without people being involved.
- You cannot optimize the company’s assets without people.
- You cannot leverage the balance sheet without people.
- You cannot execute a marketing plan without people.
- You certainly cannot innovate without people.
- People are a force waiting to be multiplied.
Steve Jobs knew this. He went to extraordinary lengths to protect two things: His investment in people and his investment in intellectual property, which is really another way of saying his people. Those who tried to poach his people felt his wrath, which was considerable, as much as those who tried to infringe on Apple’s legally protected assets.
So, given that people are any company’s greatest asset, I would suggest looking at people a little differently: Not as individuals, but as a team, in order to reach force multiplier achievement. There is an old Japanese proverb that says A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle. “Teams are a company’s biggest asset”, according to Ginny Rometty, IBM’s CEO.
One reason is that in a team the Network Effect is in play. Let me explain.
If two people –Sam and Joan– are communicating, then there are just two bi-directional relationships in play: Sam to Joan and Joan to Sam. If a third person –let’s call her Fred– joins in, then Sam and Joan now have two additional bi-directional relationships to deal with: Joan to Fred and back, and Sam to Fred and back. So a team of three has six bi-directional relationships or communications pathways. With a fourth member, the group now adds six bi-directional pathways for a total of twelve. And so on. The growth in pathways, or bi-directional lines of communications, is exponential as the group grows.
There comes a point of course where there are too many bi-directional relationships and the network effect breaks down. Eight members is optimal in my experience.
The Network Effect Of Teams Of People is the very definition of Force Multiplication.
But we all know that it does not simply happen because a few people are gathered in one room or virtually. So, the key question is how to maximize, optimize, and leverage the Network Effect.
If Sam, Joan, Fred, and the fourth and fifth members of the group are all first graders, then the bi-directional relationships will be noisy and unproductive. If Sam, Joan, Fred, and the fourth and fifth members of the group are adults but behave like first graders, the group will also be noisy and unproductive, so rules of conduct are needed; more on that later.
But it is what travels back and forth along these lines of communications that is the key to force multiplication. And what should travel along these lines is questions and answers followed by more questions and answers. Clicking the link at the end of this article will help you discover how you can become a thought leader by understanding exactly how to interrogate data, and how to get people to interrogate one another – that way leads to leveraging and optimizing the network effect.
As I said, maximizing, optimizing, and leveraging the magical arithmetic of a team can only be done if there are rules of conduct.
If a team does not adhere to rules of conduct, the result will be as predictable as a soccer game played without rules: Chaos.
So, as a suggestion you might have the team sign a contract like the one below: Make sure you clear this with Human Resources first; it might be too radical. It’s non-binding in a legal sense, of course! It will, however, make the point about group behavior and it might be fun; and it will certainly ingrain group behavior faster than an instruction manual. So, fill in the blanks and reach force multiplier achievement. I developed it with an attorney. I have used it. And it works! Feel free to copy it.
The Terego Enterprise Team Contract For Force Multiplier Achievement
In consideration for my desire to participate in a team group organized and sponsored by the company ____________________ (hereinafter referred to as the “Enterprise Team”) and, in reliance on the execution of a like contract by each other participant in the Enterprise Team, the undersigned enters into this contract. In doing so, I understand that the company ___________________ has committed to each participant in the Enterprise Team to do the following:
- To teach us a method of critically thinking about an issue or topic in a way that encourages the development of a collective point-of-view or solution on any given issue.
- To help us in this task by organizing an Enterprise Team in which participants collectively come to a resolution on a given topic.
- To help us write a thoughtful and well-argued opinion on the topic under consideration.
I. PARTICIPANT’S WARRANTIES
Based on the foregoing, I agree to abide by the following Enterprise Team group rules of conduct:
- All ideas generated by me during a meeting of the Enterprise Team will be private and known only to me until I declare them part of the group’s work product. At this time, said ideas will become open for discussion.
- I promise to do my best to keep the focus of the Enterprise Team, of which I am a member, on the work at hand and not to participate in any side discussions that are irrelevant to the purposes of the Enterprise Team.
- I agree to listen to all members of the group respectfully and carefully and I further promise to only judge or criticize their ideas – not their character, personality, mode of dress, or any idiosyncrasies. This way, I and all other members of the Enterprise Team will feel safe from scorn, embarrassment, and ridicule and the work of the group will be greatly enhanced.
- I promise to let each person who is speaking finish his or her thoughts. I further promise unconditionally to allow them to withdraw their idea if, on completion, they feel it did not add any value to the discussion.
- I promise to let one member of the Enterprise Team repeat each speaker’s thoughts (once completed) without interruption, thereby solidifying their idea in all members’ minds.
- I promise that only after the idea has been proposed and repeated will I challenge it. I will only challenge the idea, not the person suggesting it. I will do this because I agree that, during an Enterprise Team’s deliberations, there are no bad ideas – just ideas.
- I agree that, if I am in possession of facts or examples that support an idea that the group is discussing, I will volunteer this supporting evidence.
- I agree that, if I am in possession of facts or evidence to disprove an idea, I will volunteer them, knowing that they may become valuable evidence, since stating something as a fact and then disproving it is an excellent way to prove a point.
- I promise to help make sure that all participants in the Enterprise Team participate by encouraging the least confident members to speak up.
- I promise to do my best to make sure that all meetings of the group begin and end on time.
- I promise that I will make every effort to reach a consensus during the discussions of the Enterprise Team. If a consensus is not reached, I agree that the majority rules. This way all members support the final product.
- I promise to keep an open mind and to make an effort to see the other person’s point of view.
- I promise to politely confront other members of the Enterprise Team who do not abide by either the spirit or the letter of these rules.
- I promise that I will be willing to constructively criticize the group’s performance.
- Since all members will take turns being the group leader, I promise that I will support any member of the group in their role as group leader with a positive, cooperative attitude toward solving the problem assigned.
- I agree that the main goal of my participation in an Enterprise Team is to learn the process of critically thinking about a problem in a team setting and coming to an agreed upon solution and communicating that solution to other stakeholders in the enterprise.
Participant’s Signature _____________________________________
Enterprise Team Leader Signature _______________________________________
I have studied team behavior extensively, and worked with teams for most of my forty year business career. And my Terego Enterprise Training Methodology is a culmination of all that. It is Socratic inquiry in a team setting.
To learn how you can get a leg-up on the competition by implementing the force multiplier effect in teams quickly and inexpensively, click here.
Comments and shares especially welcome.