The relative gloom engendered by the choice of Russia and Qatar as Football World Cup venues was, for me at least, very quickly dispelled by the excellent showing of the England cricket team in the Second Test at Adelaide.
It was a triumph of teamwork and for the first time for many years, they even outfielded the Australians. Every member of the team contributed and there is an evident will to win.
I heard Andrew Strauss being interviewed and one of the things he said had a great resonance for me. He said, when asked about his concept of captaincy:
"I want eleven captains on my team".
He went on to say that, in the end, he makes the final decision but what he is looking for is full input from all members of the team, with almost a requirement that they contribute to the running of the side.
This is a great metaphor for management in general. Strauss's style echoes that of the companies known as the great engines of growth in Kenneth and Will Hopper's book, The Puritan Gift, (www.puritangift.com) where they emphasise their culture of "bottom up" management as distinct from "top down", which by definition, implies the opinions of one person.
I recall an instance in a previous company which manufactured, among other things, fabrics coated with rubber, both natural and synthetic. The technical people had designed a product for use in divers wet suits and a small prototype run was being prepared. One of the machine operatives asked what the product was being used for and on being told, said it wasn't suitable.
Somewhat surprised, the techies asked what evidence did he have to make such a contentious statement and were somewhat taken aback to be told that he was the Secretary of a national sub-aqua organisation, and was probably rated as a world expert in these matters.
The company,very sensibly, accepted his opinion and asked him to act as an internal consultant to the project.
A VIstage speaker once told us that one of the problems in business is that we allow people to turn up at work, hang up their coats, hang up their brains and then go home again at 5.00pm to take up their hobbies, run a youth club, learn a language or generally use their minds to some effect. The problem is, that in the main, we don't know anything about them other than what they do during working hours.
It is a waste of intellect and exploiting the opportunities, in the most positive way, can materially contribute to the success of the business to the benefit of everyone.
It is more important to develop upwards communication than it is to shout down instructions from the isolation at the top. Isolation? Certainly: the people on the shop floor, either actually or metaphorically, know more about what is happening than does the management, and until there is an ethos of openness, there will always be a communication gap.
It isn't about incentives either: it's a matter of encouragement and visibly demonstrating that peoples' opinions are sought, desired and, above all, are valued.
How many captains do you have on your team?
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