It might seem obvious to change a strategy that isn’t working. But we often see the simple solution overlooked; especially when a team feels they have everything under control.
During a Bushwhacked team challenge this week, Team A came to the final challenge with a 20 minute lead on Team B. To that point they had done everything right: planned, thought outside the square, communicated and worked well together.
The final challenge: light a fire using a flint stick. For the next 20 minutes they tried to light the fire using the same method and materials over and over without success.
Team B arrived and, trying several methods, lit the fire within three minutes.
Once the allotted time was complete, our facilitators were able to engage and coach Team A. Our advice? If it’s not working consider another way. Analyse what you’re doing and improve.
Sparks started to fly. Team energy levels rose again. Pulling together they got the fire going.
End result: both teams finished on equal times. Even though they drew for the win Team A was disappointed; they thought they had it won.
Strong teams do not let this happen. They keep outperforming.
There are many reasons why teams don’t see the obvious or consider alternatives.
In this case, Team A were high achievers in the overall challenge (on our assessment their performance before the fire challenge was in the top five per cent).
With the finish in sight they became over-confident in their lead, which clouded their judgement. As their stress levels grew they dropped what had previously worked well: communication, thinking outside the square and working together.
Here, it was lighting a fire. But in the workplace it could be closing a deal, finishing the project, site pack-down, etc.
Following our Principals for High Performing Teams, teams should build, perform, analyse and improve until they succeed. We believe a simple self-analysis at set deadlines would have helped Team A win.
Too often success clouds judgement, complicating situations when an obvious, simple solution – such as a shift in strategy – is all that’s needed.