MANAGEMENT TEAMS INTERNATIONAL
A competitive environment is created in which each team endeavours to run its business more successfully than its rivals and thereby accumulate greater financial wealth. Teams have to explain their strategy, position and result at the end of the exercise. It is important that the teams are considered by the delegates to be equal as the learning relies on participants experiencing success and failure. To ensure that this equality is accepted, teams should have equal numbers of delegates at a similar level.
Different numbers in a team would allow delegates to blame an external factor for their result rather than concentrating on the team's strengths and weaknesses. If a team with one additional person in it should win, then others will say, "well of course they had additional resources", yet if a team with one less person in it should win, then others will say, "well of course they had less communication problems!"
Delegates should be from a similar level so that no obvious advantage is bestowed on a team by having certain individuals in it. Directors should not be mixed with first line supervisors at the same event, although both have benefited from the seminar.
Delegates are selected into teams by virtue of their team roles. People with similar team roles are put together to create teams of different character. By being together over a long period in a competitive environment, they tend to `ferment in their own juices.´ They have an over and under supply of the various team roles and their strengths and weaknesses are very much magnified.
After individual study of the rules, delegates may ask questions to ensure that they all understand the concepts and are happy with the requirements. They are then selected into teams and retire to syndicate rooms for their initial strategy planning session. This is a lengthy period during which time the teams need to `form and storm,´ as well as decide on their roles and strategy.
Then follows the first of three cycles which by contrast are action packed with many tight deadlines. Strict timekeeping is enforced to determine whether or not teams arrived at the bank before it closed, and whether or not their bids were in time to be accepted. This is done quite deliberately in order to simulate the pressures encountered in business life.
Teams are invited to discuss and review their process at the end of each cycle. If required, facilitators may be assigned to each team to help ensure that all members realise what the process has been and how they have behaved. The financial results are then posted for all to see and teams continue with their strategic evaluation and further planning, prior to the next cycle.
Confess and Share
At the end of the exercise, teams are asked to prepare reports along suggested guidelines. This helps to ensure that each team has learnt from its experience and provides an opportunity for the teams to learn from each other. The learning is reinforced by delegates realising for themselves that their success or failure reflects the performance of their team.
Points to Note
The experience of the seminar can occasionally prove to be uncomfortable for some participants, especially if they have very strong views or believe they have no weaknesses, or do not value the contribution or opinions of others. This exposure, however, need not be threatening to the individual as it is the team that has been observed and measured. There need be no losers in this exercise - the team may have lost but the individuals gain from the experience.
It is important that real life teams do not take part as an exercise team. There would be little benefit in the Marketing Management team or the Accounting Administration team or the Engineering Executive team having to live forever with the fact that they lost!
It is recognised that some clients prefer to have their own private seminars. This can be effective and does have several advantages:
However, there is also a disadvantage in that some participants may not adopt their natural behaviour. This is normally for one of two reasons. Firstly, the powerful personalities may well have already `sorted out´ their differences and learnt not to provoke or at least make allowances for each other and secondly, some participants may be aware, or at least feel, that they are being watched by a boss or future boss and behave differently. This produces an unreal environment which tends to undermine the learning experience and ideally, it is preferable to have delegates who do not already know each other. The best result is invariably obtained when different organisations each nominate one person to attend an open seminar. Large organisations might achieve similar results by selecting staff with different backgrounds and from varying geographical locations.