Home > Happy Holidays Fun, The Monday Musings Column > Great teams come from characters, not clones

Great teams come from characters, not clones

He set out that morning in good spirits; for late December it was a bright day and heading slightly north he didn’t have to worry too much about the low sun in his eyes.  The English countryside was at its Winter finest and he felt good about the day to come; a few hours working with a small group who not only sought his advice, but had readily paid in advance. The mile flew by with some help from Classic FM and he was soon turning into the drive of the venue, an old country manor, now a hotel.

Having given his name at reception he settled into the lounge and was soon greeted by his client, a man of indeterminate age in standard business suit, collar and tie, and they walked through to the meeting room. There were six in the client group, three women and three men and there was something strangely alike about them, almost as though they were department store mannequins each wearing something different from the business attire ranges.

There was no preamble, just straight down to business, but that was fine. “We have a team performance issue” they said “and you have a good record of building successful teams, so we need your thinking to understand what may have gone wrong with our approach”. At this there was a curious exchange of looks between the client group. He looked at each of them in turn; “I can tell you some of the things that I have done, but team building is not an exact science…” He stopped as the lead client had raised a hand. One of the women walked towards him and placed a hand on his forehead.

He knew that time had passed, but not how much. The group of six sat facing him in the same room, but the angle of light through the window told him that it was well into the afternoon and his stomach busily told him that he had missed lunch. “You have given us much” said the spokesman “but none of it makes sense. We build our teams by cloning the finest examples for each role, and these people are otherwise peerless in their field. There is no wasteful selection process; we simply produce the right candidate with the best skills and training but, whilst the individuals are superb examples, there is no team performance.

“But what we have learned from you is that you take flawed people, non-conformists who are often lacking in background or apparent skills for the roles and somehow these groups perform at levels far beyond any reasonable expectations. We understand that this is what you do, but cannot understand how it can be true.” There was another of those exchanges of looks between the sextet. “You will come with us.” The spokesman held up his hand again to silence the objections; “You will be returned here before 3.30 as we have paid you for, but you will be with us for as long as it takes, for your approach makes no sense”.

The group rose as one and extended their hands towards him. He looked up at them; “Your problem is that in cloning people you are producing robots when what you need are individuals. You should celebrate their differences and their flaws for that is what makes people special. You build a team on their dynamics.”

He was conscious that he was talking to an empty room. The door opened and a young lady appeared with tea and biscuits. “Your hosts thought you might like some refreshments” she said, adding “You have the room for the rest of the afternoon if you need it”.

He poured himself a cup and thought of what he had experienced. A glance at his ‘phone showed that it was indeed still that day, but he had only a hazy recollection of what had happened since he had arrived that morning.

Well, he thought, if that’s the future I’m glad I’m from the past. He raised his cup in the direction of the window: Here’s to all the eccentrics, failures, weirdoes and characters he thought, and thanks for making life so much fun over the years, and he left to drive home happy in the memory of so many of the people that he had worked with over the years.




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