I have facilitated hundreds of offsite meetings over my 20+ years of consulting. Many of those offsites include what the client calls "team building." It might be an afternoon on the golf course, cocktails/dinner in the evening between the two days of offsite, car racing, etc. This team building can be a great opportunity to get to know each other better by interacting in a different way than the typical business environment. Some new bonds can be formed through these events that would otherwise not have occurred. This type of team building, although it can be productive, is really just dealing with the tip of the iceberg of the real challenge - Making Teamwork Profitable™.

The business opportunity, often unrealized, is to produce results that can ONLY be achieved as a team - in addition to the results that can be achieved in functional departments/silos. Achieving both team and silo results have an exponential effect (2+2=8) instead of results that are mostly the sum of what each team member or silo produce (2+2=4). It's just common sense that Making Teamwork Profitable means being competent as a team in teamwork. Teamwork competency starts with having a Team Identity and ends with Delivering Results (as a team) as Promised. Check out the TeamScene® Model for a description of each of these competencies.

Although I am fortunate to have a diversified client base, many of my clients are in the oil and gas industry either as a producing company, a support/services company or a professional services company that has clients in the oil and gas industry. Revenues are down because of a 50% drop in oil prices. Layoffs have been on the rise and spending is being reduced. Making Teamwork Profitable is especially relevant during times of lower oil prices because companies have less capital to invest or spend, so maximizing the return on each investment or each producing field becomes so much more important. The question becomes how the team can collaborate to generate results that aren't now being achieved because the team is not taking advantage of opportunities that can be achieved ONLY by working well as a team.

Just like people, no two teams are alike. There is no formula to make a team effective. There are frameworks like the TeamScene® Model. There are tools that increase awareness or competency. The following are 5 Tips for Making Teamwork Profitable (MTP) that may give you some strategies for taking advantage of team-based business opportunities:

MTP Tip #1 - Define Your 2015 "ONLY" Goal and Related Incentive(s)

I define an ONLY Goal as a business goal for your team that can ONLY be achieved by working well together as a team. In some past experiences in helping leaders define their ONLY goals, the following are some examples:

• Improve end-to-end turnaround time from 3 days to next day (for a services business supporting the residential construction industry)

• Reduce scrap and rework by X% by improving the accuracy of the planning router for the end-to-end manufacturing process (for a manufacturer of equipment for the oilfield)

• Increase customer wallet share through business units teaming up to increase the number of product lines that the customer buys (for an industrial distributor)

Providing some clear, financial incentives for achieving an ONLY Goal is a good idea. Whether it is a financial bonus or a celebration/trip or even time off, these are all recognition for a job well done when the goal is achieved. As a team member, I would question whether the ONLY goal is really that important if you are not incentivizing the achievement of the goal. Although an incentive for the team goal seems like common sense, I have seen some team members push back on the team-based incentive because they realize that their income may depend on working with people they can't depend on. Hmmm...sounds like there might be some unrealized business opportunity on that team, don't you think?

MTP Tip #2 - Realize Profit Opportunities by Creating a Business Advantage in Team Member Working Relationships

Each team member working relationship generates collaborative value for the team. Some working relationships have more potential value than others. Some relationships are naturally stronger or weaker than others because of personalities, trust levels, level of interaction, etc. I recommend each team member sit down with each other to define what the business advantage is (profit opportunities from a strong working relationship)for their relationship. Here are some examples of business advantage in working relationships:

• VP of Finance and VP of Marketing - Pricing model that maximizes profit

• Project Scheduler and Project Purchasing/Procurement - Coordinated timing of procuring long lead equipment to effectively manage cash flows and avoid schedule delays

• VP of Sales/VP of Engineering - Prioritizing product/process improvements based on customer feedback

MTP Tip #3 - Accelerate or "Kill" Possible Difference-Maker Ideas

When an organization is under profit pressure, the message often gets sent either knowingly or unknowingly, that it is time to think less and do more with less. I do believe this is the wrong message because it is precisely the time that difference-maker ideas become feasible. I am not suggesting the organization become distracted when focus is important. I am suggesting a process is needed to filter possible difference-maker ideas quickly. Maybe it's possible to bypass a bureaucratic, costly process that fits a high growth environment. Maybe it's possible to shift lead generation to a lower cost, more people intensive social media strategy. Maybe it's possible to offer products in smaller volume so customers would continue to buy instead of delaying large purchases.

An organization needs a process to quickly filter ideas both functionally and crossfunctionally - to accelerate or "kill." In addition, the ideas that need to be accelerated should be presented to a review board of decision makers - in a Lincoln Douglas style debate format. The author of the proposed idea should present the proposal against someone presenting for the status quo (not adopting the proposal) followed by an open debate before the review board makes a decision. Alternatively, the author of the proposed idea could present his/her proposal vs. alternative solutions/proposals presented by others before there is an open debate.

The key here is speed because the window of opportunity only stays open so long. As the old saying goes, "An obstacle is what you see when you lose sight of your goal."

MTP Tip #4 - Pledge Allegiance to the Plan

Studies have shown that poor implementation of and lack of accountability to a plan are the greatest cost to a great idea/solution. This may not show up as a huge loss on the income statement but there is a cost to the lost opportunity as a result of the poor implementation and accountability.

I recommend a process to test how united the team is behind the plan where each team member and stakeholder, in a group session, needs to go on record to provide their honest assessment of how committed they are to the key elements of the plan (to Pledge Allegiance to the Plan) from "Strongly Endorse" to being a "Showstopper." It is this open discussion that can help assess, before implementation goes forward, whether the team can pledge their readiness to fully and vigorously implement the plan. It is much less costly to kill the plan before it's implemented if the team is not united in their commitment to deliver what is promised in the plan.

MTP Tip #5 - 911 Calls to a Quick-Strike Team

Just as it is less costly to kill a bad plan or idea before it is implemented, it is also less costly to deal with a crisis quickly than letting the problem linger. I believe having a nimble, fast acting quick-strike team can help keep the cost of crises to a minimum. Quick strike members need to be trained just as emergency responders do - to get the situation stable and then take action quickly to stop the loss. Quick strike teams need to be cross-functional, need to deal with mostly cross-functional crises and have the support of executives to take action. Department leaders should still have accountability for quickly dealing with crisis within their function or department.

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Fun, experiential events as a team are a good start. But Making Teamwork Profitable needs to be intentional - to take advantage of business opportunities that are achievable ONLY by working well as a team. Thomas Edison may have been referring to Making Teamwork Profitable when he said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Mike Goodfriend is a teamwork engineer, executive coach, and meeting facilitator. Since 1989, Goodfriend & Associates has been helping leaders and leadership teams increase their strategic advantage through achieving higher levels of competitive advantage, teamwork/alignment, leadership competency and excellence/customer satisfaction. Mike Goodfriend can be reached at 713-789-6840 or via email at mikeg@goodfriendconsulting.com.


Visit our website - www.goodfriendconsulting.com

1. View TeamScene® - The Teamwork Competency Model for Leadership Teams

2. Read a thought-provoking article from the Goodfriend Insights Archive

3. Listen to Mike Goodfriend on the Value Up Radio Show hosted by Dan Whittaker -- "Leveraging Human Capital to Achieve Results in Your Business"

4. Learn about The Teamwork Sharks - The Teamwork Sharks will be at the Houston CPA Society Spring Accounting Expo on May 19, 2015. Nominate your team to make a presentation to the Sharks and possibly win a complimentary, half day session for your team facilitated by Mike Goodfriend and the Teamwork Sharks

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