Monday, June 28, 2010

The Brightest Person and the Baton

Last year I wrote a post about the danger of being the brightest person in the room (it was not self-descriptive!). It was about the problems encountered when individuals (no matter how brilliant) put themselves above their team.

Reading this month's "Fast Company" magazine, I came across an article by Dan and Chip Heath entitled "Blowing the Baton Pass." The story highlights the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the misfortune of the men's and women's relay team's disastrous results: a dropped baton disqualified each team. Read the whole article for some great insight, but here is the absolute gold quote:

Organizations make this mistake constantly: They prize individual brilliance over the ability to work together as a team.

  • The relay team with the fastest sprinters doesn't always win.
  • The business with the most talented employees doesn't either.

How about your team? Do you have a process that promotes teamwork, allowing collaboration and cooperation? Are you practicing baton handoffs regularly, or do you assume your team can do it without coordination?

Answer wrong, and you will be looking at a baton on the track and the backside of your competition.

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