Achieving: Though team culture may be a soft concept, it requires disciplined effort and time to build a positive environment that encompasses organizational hierarchy, decision rights, rules of engagement, clear definitions of responsibilities and acceptable behavior, metrics, target cascading, and incentives.
A productive culture should enable associates to think and operate on a long-term basis and prevent them from falling into the mode of firefighting. The leader should endeavor to develop a culture that rewards risk taking and learning from trial and error. Consequently, rewards and recognition should be more frequent than annual incentives. The culture should be promoted throughout the organization, using banners, symbols, and recognition. Find ways to keep everyone on the same page at all times. Leverage social media to promote the culture of connectivity. I use e-notes as a way to sum up the accomplishments of a week and a month. It takes hard work to build a culture, and the culture should live on long after the leader responsible for creating it is no longer around. This is achieved by making communication the key tool.
Redefining: The Purpose is the discipline and team culture that is the means of achieving this goal. Once the purpose is achieved, the leader has to ensure that all aspects of the culture are adapted to the new reality. The most common trap teams fall into, when faced with changing circumstances, is failing to redefine the culture in line with the new requirements. This step requires the leader and the team to identify which realities and business assumptions have changed and which stage of the business journey the organization is on. This reevaluation helps define the new purpose of the organization. For example, I use supply chain maturity models to track where the organization is headed and to create a sense of journey. Secondly, every year I look at every aspect of what my team does and consciously engage in a dialogue of what to retire, refine and re-design.
The final component is partnership, which includes both intra-team and external relationships.
Internal partners: Team members should understand their strengths and weaknesses and leverage the strengths of their colleagues to further their development. It is normal to feel comfortable around people who think like us, but like-mindedness is detrimental to an effective team. It is essential that teams are composed of people with differing personalities and backgrounds who can bring multi-dimensional thought leadership. Teams also should engage in creative conflict to shape the best planning in supply chain.
Secondly, the team should practice winning together. They should perfect multidimensional thinking. I engage in a process called “Logivation,” by which I ask my teams’ direct reports to present an idea that is out of their comfort zone. I also have their teams present an idea. The outcome is that the team ideas are always much larger in scope than the individuals’ ideas. While the individual ideas force one to work sub-functionally to develop collaborative, interpersonal skills, the team ideas are mostly cross-functional in nature. It also helped me identify how people solve problems, what they gravitate to, their strengths and motivations, and, more importantly, improved the ability to create winning solutions. This practice has helped me deliver 20 times more than what was expected from us. Moreover, my team absolutely loved it.
External partners: The process applied to efficiently make and move products to create business value can also be applied to an intellectual process, which I call “Visioneering.” “Making” is really about improving the “mindware” to create robust ideas and leverage systematic processes to translate them into action plans. “Moving” is actually about persuading, influencing, and convincing the rest of the organization to go along with your plan. Therefore, leaders have to understand how to effectively collaborate, which is really listening/understanding; utilize systematic and thorough planning to think multi-dimensionally and holistically; and communicate effectively based on the needs of their audience in a customized and personalized fashion. Partnerships are built by going beyond oneself and building credibility and trust by delivering results and artfully leveraging soft skills.