Saturday, December 08, 2007

Managing teams is like managing simultaneous equations

As a follow up to my article on Life is an equation you balance all the time I will talk about imagining the management of teams to be similar to managing or solving simultaneous equations. So if you have not read the first article please do so before continuing.

In the first article I looking at managing oneself as similar to managing an equation with multiple variables and coefficients and having a constant on the right hand side. Now when you associate multiple individuals together each one of them having their own little equation to manage it starts to get a bit complex. Teamwork is being able to manage the equations in such a way that everyone in the team has similar goals (variables) and these responsibilities have similar priorities (coefficients) since the constant on the right hand side is always going to be the same. If everyone in the team have differing goals and priorities then you will never be able to solve the simultaneous equation and that is when the team work just does not work.

External pressures and individual goals always tend to distort the equation, it is not possible to eliminate these so a balance needs to be brought about between the variables that represent the team goals and the individual goals. If this balance was not there then due to the one person that did not manage these coefficients the equation may never be solved and team work gets hit.

It gets a lot more complex for individuals since they will always work in multiple teams - Family can be one team, you may be involved in multiple teams in the office, society and so on. So each individual is part of multiple simultaneous equations at the same time. So one needs to not only manage each individual equation but also manage the number of simultaneous equations one gets in to - since the more you get into the more complex it gets.

So the key in making a team work together successfully is
  • Make sure everyone is aware of the goals - so that you are dealing with similar variables in all your equations.
  • There should be a balance in the individual equations between personal goals and team goals.
  • Be a part of few teams and make quality contributions rather than being a part of a lot of teams.

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