Friday, August 24, 2007

Team-work that worked for the team....

"So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work." - Peter Drucker

This quote rings a loud bell in my mind. Actually, it rings so many bells that it feels like a musical experience. Wind chimes, what? Now, if you happen to hear warning bells, you better pay heed to them. Because, here’s another of my stories. But this one’s very memorable and close to my heart and related to work, if that makes any difference.

My previous organization was a small and sweet place and I was given all the freedom in the world to run the KM show therein. And how I enjoyed it! After a year of baby steps and small but exciting discoveries, I had the complete confidence and aspiration to propose an Intranet. After a few initial hiccups, we were given the go-ahead. It felt like I was let off into a fascinating forest where it was completely up to me to climb up the right trees, pluck the right flowers and fruits and avoid the snakes and wild animals. A team of 7 was formed (including yours truly). 5 of these were ‘kids’ almost straight out of college but with the determination to get going in life. For the first time in my life, I was to lead a team that would perhaps look up to me for setting the direction and solving problems on the way. I was determined to not let them down while trying to rub off my excitement about seeing our Intranet materialize. Apart from the team per se, we had no significant resources at our disposal. We had to settle for freeware when it came to development tools and the like and we were determined to make the best use of what was available.

The zeal with which we went after it was to be seen to be believed. We ate, drank, and breathed the Intranet from then on. We were off to a shaky start for we knew not whether we were doing the right things and we knew not what was in store down the line. But as we decided to take things as they came, we found ourselves chasing our dream with increasing confidence. The brainstorming sessions we had were amazing. I learned my basics of brainstorming there. Good harmony, occasional brain waves, combination of multiple ideas, acceptance, subsequent exploration, awesome laughter et al. The requirements were gathered from various corners of the organization, our own ideas on what the Intranet should be like were pooled in, the overall design was created and a couple of technical experts from other parts of the organization pitched in to help us identify the right tools and start the development. Frequent meetings ensured we were always in tune and identified and resolved problems on the fly. Every milestone was celebrated in style. Misunderstandings and under-performance definitely crept in at times but were dealt with - sometimes dusted off easily and sometimes through a painful process. And well, we stepped on a few important toes as well. But nothing seemed to matter more than seeing the Intranet come alive.

7 odd months later, we were ready to show the world what we were capable of. We were trusted and allowed to follow our own path all along, though, we did invite some of the middle managers to take a peek when we completed some sections on the Intranet. But, the final presentation was more or less a grand revelation of a secretive effort. I can still recall the excitement that we had when we unveiled the Intranet to the organization’s senior management. It was a wonderful feeling when the man who mattered the most stood up and clapped at the end of the presentation. I felt extremely proud to have been a part of such a team. I had never felt as glad as that as a team member before and, unfortunately, haven’t felt that proud again as a team member till date. That, to my mind, was a team in the real sense – Together, Everyone Achieved a Miracle.

Hmm. Apologies! I broke into a long story when all I had to do was communicate this -> After the presentation, we stepped out and shared our joy with a good friend of mine and said something to the effect that we couldn’t believe that we’d done so well. To which my friend asked “Do you know why?” and then answered it himself before we could say anything “Because you were not managed! Nobody interrupted you in your dream journey.”

At that time, I seriously did not see the full merit in what he said. But later, I knew he was quite right. :) What we were ‘reel’ing under was a labour of love and there were no –depending on the way you look at it - villains/comedians/multiple directors in it. ;)

No comments: