HEAD NECK CANCER - A learning journey
It pays to look back and revisit ideas from history, and refresh them for the 21st century. To add an extra 'wow' factor into teamwork, take a look at
Caldicott, Sarah Miller 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Available via SYSU E-resources, e-books-EBRARY.
After one first year management class, I felt puzzled. A student came up to me to say that his team had almost completed their teamwork in week 2 of a 6 week project developing a 'virtual organisation' in order to understand management roles and challenges. They were obviously very goal and task oriented, but seemed to have missed the point from the previous learning about individual strengths, shared power and processes.
When teams come together, there is usually an already defined project and a leader who defines the goals and allocates tasks. The team is focused on completing the tasks to a set of defined standards within a fixed time-frame. Each person does their bit, but stops short of taking responsibility together for the whole process and outcomes. Something was missing from the equation.
As I walked across the campus, the name 'Thomas Edison' came into my head, in relation to creativity and innovation. I went to my EBRARY bookshelf, where I had already placed Caldicott's book.
When I shared some of the key learnings from this book with the students and they put them into practice, there was a notable shift in their thinking and practice. They started to push boundaries, past conventional ideas and the idea of copying others.
The key to switch on deeper 'discovery learning' is linked to Edison's principles, aimed to ‘maximise the brilliance and innate creativity in each of us to tackle major worldwide problems’.
Five key elements for innovation are: 1. Mindset 2. Creative processes 3. Work culture 4. Value creation 5. Team engagement.
It is extraordinary that Thomas Edison was only twenty-nine years old when he set up his first 'invention factory' in 1876. This consisted of an electrical lab, a chemistry lab and and a machine shop. Teams of diverse skilled scientists, engineers, machinists could move between areas and in a collegial environment with few hierarchies, this was a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
Edison was a brilliant entrepreneur, who founded more than 200 domestic and international companies, including
Edison General Electric Company, that we know today as GE, one of the top Fortune 50 companies (Jack Welch was CEO for 20 years). Edison was able to attract and cross –train a diverse talent pool from many disciplines and specialist skills in science, engineering, and machining. With a flat team structure, and small teams of no more than eight people, aimed at facilitating collegiality, flexibility, and communication, the environment was set for discovery learning, open to possibilities, and connecting common goals and purpose, following four phases of 'true collaboration':
1. CAPACITY: build relationships; trust; and be aware of the diversity of skills
2. CONTEXT: each one reads broadly; shares insights with team; Reframe, transform ideas; experiment…
3. COHERENCE: Can the team stay on track despite disagreements? Emphasise purpose, inspire; communicate…
4. COMPLEXITY: Manage complex data streams; leverage networks effectively, quickly…
And throughout, create the footprint, that is, record the team’s collective intelligence in a notebook (then...today a computer, video, images...) create the prototypes and keep testing, improving on each creation. At the end of phase 4, plan for product launch , keep improving, go back to square 1, or complete project (See Figures 1-1, and 1-3, Caldicott, 2013).
The next time you have a team project, take the time to understand capacity first, build the team relationships, invite each to read and think about the project and listen equally to each person's input. It could just make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary results!
Caldicott, SM 2013, Midnight lunch: the 4 phases of team collaboration process from Thomas Edison’s lab, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey. Sarah is the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, and it's fabulous to see her as a torchbearer of his enormous legacy. Thank you! See Sarah's website: http://www.powerpatterns.com/
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,