Teams Win 9 Keys to Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Specifically, feedback is a necessity for assessing the immediate needs of the team, for evaluating both individual and team performance, for enabling individuals to improve their performance, and for enabling teams to improve their joint performance and teamwork.

Where the sports analogy breaks down again is in the different level of immediacy that applies to feedback in the realm of sports and professional business. In sports, feedback loops exist on a momentary basis at the operational level, whereas in business functions, it is very rare to have such immediacy of feedback. However, other than the temporal difference, feedback loops provide many of the same essential functions in both realms. In general principle, teams without efficient feedback mechanisms are destined to remain at their current levels of performance and success. Conversely, teams that succeed do so partly by accurately evaluating past performance with the express purpose of implementing the changes necessary to make specific improvements whose need was identified by performance feedback systems.

Chapter 7 -- Confidence

Just as successful teams require a minimum amount of individual talent to compete successfully in their fields, they also require a minimum amount of confidence to achieve their potential. However, the author cautions that confidence (whether at the level of the individual or at the level of the team or organization) can never substitute for talent, or for that matter, for any other specific deficiency of the team. In that sense, confidence is analogous to vitamin supplements for physical health: the sufficient intake of vitamins and mineral is necessary for optimum health.

However, increasing vitamin and mineral supplements beyond the body's need for them cannot provide additional benefits; in fact, too many vitamins become toxic to the body. Furthermore, just as vitamin supplementation can never substitute for other physiological deficiencies, neither can confidence compensate for significant shortcomings in any other area of team performance. Ultimately, confidence only provides its maximum benefit where it is realistic and justified by other circumstances. On one hand, lack of confidence can significantly undermine the performance of the team; on the other hand, genuine confidence must be supported by the other requisite factors that make it reasonable and justified. Teams without the other prerequisites for success cannot substantially improve their performance merely by increasing their confidence; teams in whom greater confidence is justified can benefit greatly by manifesting greater confidence.

Chapter 8 -- Chemistry

The sports team chemistry analogies hold up better in connection with business units than in connection with the success of business organizations. Whether in sports or in business, to the extent talent levels of individual team members is not perfectly homogenous, differences in team chemistry can account for different levels of success experienced by two organizations or teams all of whose individual team members posses the exact same level of individual talents.

Moreover, the nuances of chemistry between and among different team members can elevate their collective performance well above what might be predicted purely from statistical data or analytical evaluation of individual ability. The author uses several examples to illustrate both professional sports teams who failed to achieve success despite tremendous access to individual talent, as well as of sport teams who achieved their ultimate goals (i.e. championships) with rosters of players considered to be less talented individually but whose team chemistry maximized their collective efforts and abilities.

Chapter 9 -- Identity

Finally, winning teams share a quality of a tea identity. Much like confidence, team identity must arise in the appropriate context of the achievement of the other qualities of winning teams. Just as with confidence, teams possessing the other necessary winning qualities can improve their performance by establishing a unified team identity; conversely, teams lacking other essential components of success cannot substantially improve their performance merely by establishing a greater investment in a team identity without resolving the other inadequacies.

Like confidence, the team identity of winning teams begins humbly in a general organizational culture in business organizations or in a team approach in sports. Thereafter, the team identity grows alongside and largely as a function of incremental successes of the team on the much longer road to strategic success. The team identity is also a means of rebounding from isolated setbacks or failures and provides a way of overcoming them without suffering damage to team unity, chemistry, or confidence.

As in the case with leadership, team identity serves its function best when it develops through the collective contributions and uniform commitment of all the individual team members. Only then can the team identity truly be said to reflect the identity of the team. To whatever extent the team must rely on the strong performance of key individuals without a uniform level of performance, any identity established will necessarily reflect that of the high performer(s) rather than that of the team.

Reader's Opinion

On one hand, the book provides valuable information likely to be very useful to organizational leaders; on the other hand, it is possible that the same concepts might be better presented without as heavy a reliance on sports history and analogies. The range of specific responsibilities and duties as well as the complexity of business collaboration is actually much broader than those capable of being accurately represented by sports analogies. It is understandable that the format chosen by the author is much more conducive to sales and to popular appeal, but as far as the intellectual content, the depth of the analyses was limited rather than assisted by the connection to sports.

As compared to the types of relationships, roles, and mutual dependencies that arise in sports, those capable of arising in connection with professional business management are a kaleidoscope whereas those that pertain to sports are merely shades of grey or only a few different colors, at most. Phrased differently, professional business management examples can easily account for every possible analogous relationship dynamic and concerns capable of arising within the realm of sports; the converse is simply not true. To the extent Miller's examples relate to the business operations management functions and relationships among executive personnel, the lessons provided by the sports franchise analogies are better able to apply directly (rather than primarily metaphorically) to other types of business organizations and ventures.

However, if anything, that illustrates the criticism that the heavy reliance on sports analogies compromises the lessons instead of strengthening them. Nevertheless, when stripped of their excessive reliance on sports and the constant unnecessary connection between sports teams and other types of organizations, the book does provide a helpful representation of some of the essential components of achieving success in all types of collaborative human endeavors.

Dr. Miller's ideas are likely a valid framework for success in both business organizations and sports teams alike. To a certain extent the presentation suffers from the need to draw constant parallels between sports and business, even where some may not necessarily fit as well as others. Nevertheless, as a general framework for understanding the relationship between and among many of the essential components for success, the work is a valuable addition to the reading list of…

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