"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" - Helen Keller
spring a beautiful treat awaits those who look up to the sky: The flight of the
Canada Geese! For
centuries, the magnificent flight of the bird has heralded the arrival of
spring. The teamwork displayed by the birds consistently every season is a paramount
example of the powerful impact of teamwork. The flight of the Geese illustrates
mutual respect, and collaboration within teams.
As our workforce continues to
grow and develop, a shifting landscape and priorities require for a lot more to
be achieved. In such a scenario, the saying, "All of us are smarter than any
one of us" becomes apt. We begin to rely on teams even more. Teams have been a
norm in work settings, with about 68% of work getting done in teams. Nijstad
(2009) describes teams as a very special group characterized by interdependence
and sharing of responsibility on task outcomes. Subsequently, there are factors
that become critical in ensuring effectiveness within these special groups.
Some of these include having the right talent and successively matching that
talent to fit the role. Inability to resolve these challenges, often leads to
reduction in performance.
How do we deal with
these and many other challenges to ensure effectiveness of teams is not
I have drawn some lessons from the flight of the
Geese (based on studies conducted by Wildlife scientists) to help counter some
of the challenges existing in teams.
1. Sharing a Common Purpose: When geese fly together in the
V-formation their performance is enhanced by about seventy percent. Each bird
in the formation takes support of the lifting power of the bird in front, thus
staying within the team and continuing to perform their best.
2. Rotate Leadership: The lead goose, flying upfront
has to put in maximum energy as it breaks up the air flow to provide the lift
in-flight. Thus, when it gets tired, it is replaced by a comrade and it can
move to the back of the formation.
3. Constant Communication: Geese make frequent honking
sounds even while in-flight, to ensure they are connecting with each other during
the long and harsh flight.
I have felt these lessons to be
applicable even amongst human teams and observe teams to be more effective when
these lessons of teamwork are leveraged.
What are some best
practices that you have employed and is helping your team be successful?
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B. A. (2009). Group performance. New York: Psychology Press.
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A. W., Hackman, J. R., Jerde, T. E., Chabris, C. F., Bennett, S. L., &
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