On June 11th, 2011 Eric Hassli of the Vancouver Whitecaps scored what has now been called perhaps the best goal in the history of North American major league soccer. In this game the last ranked Vancouver Whitecaps played against the top ranked Seattle Sounders in what should have been a obvious Sounders victory, but it was not. Why?
Does collaboration and teamwork deliver success or does collaboration and teamwork just enable and amplify individual contributions that create success? In other words; can a team actually score a goal or does a team enable its players to score goals for them? Does this nuance matter? I think it does.
When you look at the video you will note:
- the ball is already down the field
- Hassli gets an opportune pass
- The defenders are occupied by his team mates
- With great personal skill he executes the shot
- All four things are required to get the goal
Effective collaboration and teamwork does not mean that every client interaction requires a bevy of best-buddies present. Effective collaboration is where you have the right people interacting with your client and their team is enabling them to do their best possible work for the client and make the team successful.
My checklist for effective teamwork and collaboration for the consulting business.
1) Understand that in the consulting business the client is buying consultants. It seems like an obvious statement but if you do not understand that consultants are not commodities, they are not interchangeable and they bring individual knowledge, experience and track record as their main assets then you have missed the main point of consulting. There is an “I” in team, you just need to look closely for it.
2) Surround your consultants with people that amplify their skills and fill the skill gaps where necessary. Be rigorous in protecting your client from people with roles that do not add direct value to the client.
3) Think about the composition of the team from the client’s perspective and keep it client specific. What skills and capabilities does your client need to be successful? That should be the first question when thinking about a team model to serve your client.
4) Incentivize the right team behaviors. Kudos should not be handed out for how many meetings you participate in or the frequency of status updates on social networks. There is a difference between being busy and truly being collaborative. Behaviors that enable the team members to do their very best work for the client (first) and the practice (second) should be recognized and rewarded.