Three learns – building contract teams

Effective teams transcend their intended sum of parts – organics triumphing over microchips, still. They necessarily require varied and specific sustenance, and you never quite know how it’s going to hold together if, and when all hell breaks loose.

I recently had the very great pleasure of working with seven talented, diverse individuals at Fieldays 2013. We had a (hectic) ‘best ever event’ over four days, and I’m grateful to them all for their efforts and results. Six contract staff from varied backgrounds (and one staffer from the office), driving advocacy on a pop up store at Mystery Creek. Firstly, the organic analogy. Sitting easily with more – more strength in numbers, more to say and explain, more wares on offer, and less well with, err, less. The austerity imposition. Turn the ‘obvious’ on its head and you get a neat reduction in the volume of peripheral tasks, with the truly important revealing itself. Having the confidence to go with a singular purpose, and then applying more (advocates) to do more (effective interaction) with less (distraction) to achieve success.

Secondly, as annoying as parents can sometimes be, they know that for more than a short sprint you need to be sustained both physically and mentally. Having enough staff for the daily ambush by potential customers meant everyone mostly saw the gold-as-wood for the trees, and got all their breaks.

Relevant information is just as important, and creating a collaboratively tested workflow helped us all stay focused on goals and measures. When the curve ball questions arrived, we had an app for that – in the form of super-Rob, the walking and breathing brand machine. Daily team and individual check-ins gave the opportunity to praise and acknowledge, advise and suggest.

Thirdly, our sum of parts was easily exceeded by the success of the team as a whole. By collaborating to individual strengths, learning formally and informally, interacting as constantly morphing units, anticipating a little further ahead each time until the interaction was as good as seamless – holding on, handing off, moving up and through the workflow. Elegance in (workflow) motion.

Historically busy shows like Fieldays concentrate the intended (or unintended) effect. If you want to look like a bunch of hoodlums scaring off passers-by, the result will definitely be accentuated. Just like a market stall, you set up, compete for attention, pique interest, build trust, and if your products are relevant and deliver what you say (or more), then loyalty may be bestowed upon you.

Some of the key things I learnt about myself from the experience? Too much planning is barely enough. Change is good, with a clarity afforded by focus. Clean slate/ ground up workflows are fantastic if you’ve got heaps of time or lots of resource. Feed them well, for they will fight harder and further, smarter and better.

Three (of the many) things I learnt about building this contract team:

  1. Less is more – a powerful team with focus and good tools will have the upper hand
  2. Feed the right stuff to the right people
  3. Embrace and maximise the opportunity that diversity of personality and skills provides.

To catch an occasional breath from the dogfight, and notice a human machine soaring, independent of the boffins who put the plane in the air. Hangar doors drawn, after managing solid landings at the end of each day. Collectively downed by success fatigue, please take a digital bow: Lisa, Mal, Tessa, Siobahn, Sarah, Tracey and Rob.

©David Binstead 2013.

A very different view of the meadow – Fieldays2012

I’m really interested in your successful team learns – leave a comment and your ‘learns’ below.

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