One explanation to why teamwork works
Business book authors and self-development book authors seem to be big fans of interrogative words. I read Jim Collins’s book Good to Great a couple of months ago and he emphasized of first thinking of who and then thinking of what. He explains that in order to take a company from good to great, the managers need to first think of the people on board, put them in the right positions and then think of where to take the company and how to get there. According to him, who always comes first. (Collins 2001, The “First Who” Concept 2011)
Later on this spring I have also read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and now also Find Your Why Simon Sinek wrote together with David Mead and Peter Docker. In these books, Sinek introduces his golden circle. In the middle of the circle is why, which is where everything starts. Then the circle moves towards how and finally also what. (Sinek, Mead & Docker 2017, 13)
Sinek says his golden circle explains why some people and some organizations accomplish more than others. As we all also know, he just says outloud that everyone and every organization knows what they do. Most of them also know how they do it. The thing most do not know is why they do it. According to Sinek, why is never to just make profit, but why is a purpose, call or a deep belief. Normal people communicate from what to how and then to why if they can, but “Inspired leaders — communicate” from the inside out. (The Golden Circle 2009)
What’s common between Collins’s and Sinek’s books is the fact that they both indicate that success is not about what one does or how one does it, but it begins with something deeper. They point out for example that Apple is not a successful company because they make great computers, but because of their successfully communicated why (The Golden Circle 2009).
Something we found problematic in our team was the fact that we didn’t have the opportunity to choose our who. We were just put together. There were people in my team that I never would have co-founded a company with and never will after this, if it wasn’t for ProAkatemia. I bet that there was someone or multiple people that never would have done this with me, if it was up to them.
While this was problematic it was also highly educational and a very useful experience. From a learning point of view, I wouldn’t change anything. If we would look at it from a profitability point of view, I might have some alternative ideas of how these past 5 months could have gone down. But from a learning point of view, I think this experience with just these people is invaluable.
While our who was something we couldn’t change, we do have an opportunity to focus on our why, how and what in ProAkatemia. I believe that ProAkatemia is an excellent place to find and refine one’s why statement.
Each team could also have a why statement. In Find Your Why Sinek also mentions nested whys. There can be an organizational why and a nested why for a division or a team and then even the individual whys on top of that. Each why should contribute and be aligned with the why “above” it, so individual why should be aligned with the division’s or the team’s why which then should by aligned with the whole organization’s why. (Sinek et al. 2017, 85)
We also get to test multiple hows and whats during ProAkatemia. I think that trying different hows and whats in our projects could be useful stories to be used in one’s why discovery process. Seeing how the different hows and whats made us feel could be extremely helpful.
In ProAkatemia, we develop ourselves and learn individually, but most importantly we grow as a team. Our coach Joonas once held a dialog session about a team. In that session, we came to the conclusion that a team is a group of people that work towards a common goal. We also concluded that a team can achieve more together than any of its individuals could alone.
Sinek, Mead and Docker concur our theory in Find Your Why. They use an example of Mead and Docker working together as a team. Mead and Docker’s why statements are aligned, even though differently phrased. Their hows, aka skills, however are a bit different, complimentary. That is why working together is productive, rewarding and lucrative for them. (Sinek et al. 2017, 154-156)
This is where teams in ProAkatemia also shine. The individuals within the team should have similar why’s, complementary hows and a common what. The individuals within a team should believe in the same thing and be passionate about the same thing. Their skills should be different and complimentary and they should be working on the same project.
Collins, J. 2001. Good to Great. Why some companies make the leap… and others don’t. 1st edition. The United States.
Sinek, S. Mead, D. Docker, P. 2017. Find Your Why. A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team. 1st edition. The United States.
Sinek, S. 2009. Start with Why. How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. 1st edition. Great Britain.
Collins, J. 2011. The “First Who” Concept. [Video]. Seen on 24.5.2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=31&v=Mh4swl_uSWU
Sinek, S. 2009. The Golden Circle. [Video]. Seen on 24.5.2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMOlfsR7SMQ