campaign, or to solve a problem. The manager of each group that is to be part of the team appoints someone to represent the group on the team and gives the delegate these instructions: “We have been told that we have to be part of this team. The team
wouldn’t be necessary if everyone just listened to our approach and adopted it. Your job is to convince everyone else on the team that our approach is the only one that will work.”
What happens at that first team meeting? Each delegate presents his or her group’s solution,, never bothering to listen to the ideas from other groups because they already know that there is only one “right”approach – theirs. The team is setting itself
up for failure right from the start. There will be no questions, no discussion, no learning – just arguments as each team member tries to convince the others.
Being part of a cross-functional team is a prime learning opportunity for all team members. It is an opportunity to learn more
about the larger business process of which each team member is a part, an opportunity to learn from each other, an opportunity to understand how the various groups represented on the team measure their success, an opportunity for team members to learn from each other and to learn together.
I always define a “team” as a learning team because if the members are not open to learning from each other, or
together learning something new, they are not really a team, but only a group of people who happen to work for the same
The whole quality movement was built on the idea of learning teams. With quality improvement teams, members
received training on how to work together, on how to use a variety of quality improvement tools, in order to improve product or service quality. Similarly, the concurrent engineering movement was built around the idea of having engineering and
manufacturing groups work as a team to design products that could more easily be manufactured.
Working as part of team is but one of the many informal learning methods available to employees as part of their everyday
work that I discuss in my new book, Learn Your Way to Success. Employees at all levels must take responsibility for their own learning and utilize the many informal learning opportunities that are available to them as part of their everyday work.
But it also incumbent on corporate training groups to help people learn how to learn as part of their everyday work, whether
it is learning how to be an effective team member or how to ask the right questions or to learn from their mistakes.
What did you learn at work today? (www.whatdidyoulearnatworktoday.com)