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Sure, It's a Pile...

"For God so loved the world, that He did not send a committee."  John 3:16 (New Corporate Translation)

CoveredpileSpringboarding off of yesterday's post, another scenario that the SWAT teams practiced was called a "Covered Pile."  In short, the covered pile is a hostage technique more commonly seen in Europe (but gaining popularity here in the states) where the hostage-taker and the hostages are all covered under a tarp or blanket when making their exit.  This makes it far more challenging - yet not impossible - for SWAT officers to see who is who.  It took some practice, but these guys took down the covered pile very effectively with little effort.  (Note to bad guys:  don't try this technique here in Iowa.  They'll nail you.)

I want to bring the SWAT teams into some of the organizations with whom I've worked.  We have covered pile hostage situations all the time.  They're called committees, teams, and task forces.  Decision and accomplishment are the hostages.  Passing the buck is the tarp.  Accountability is completely non-existent.  We hear comments like "We're waiting on the team to make a decision" or "The committe is reviewing that; you'll just have to wait."  GRRRR.  Lacking a corporate SWAT team, I found a good blog post with some helpful hints to alleviate the covered pile hostage situation:

1.Create an intentional communication strategy. Your Management team must understand and support a common vision. This requires clarity. Clarity begins with effective communication. Make sure communication from your Management team reaches all employees.

2.Do not set up intentional competition in the workplace. Try to insure that individual skill sets compliment one another rather than compete with one another. Spread the responsibility and authority around by alternating leaders for various tasks. Look for star potential and introduce coaching & mentoring as a skill set.

3.Create team ownership in the decision making process but its not management by committee. Avoid group think by making sure that individuals express opinions openly without intimidation. Responsibility must be accompanied by authority and accountability.

4.Build trust and respect by giving trust and respect. Act as a coach or mentor and not a boss.

5.Create off site team building activities quarterly. Social gatherings, athletic activities, laser tag or other activities that build unification and trust in each other.

6.Dont just talk about empowerment and delegation, believe in it and demonstrate that belief by allowing the team members to make decisions and take independent action.

7.Take complex plans and strategies and assign accountability and ownership. This creates more efficiency and leverages creativity. Assign responsibility according to individual passions.

8.Brainstorming must be encouraged to release team innovation. Bouncing ideas off one another stimulates creative thinking which leads to creative solutions. This in itself bonds individuals into a common purpose.

9.Ask for solutions assigning both responsibility and empowerment. Ownership of ideas and initiatives builds commitment. Involving the team in creating direction and solutions through empowerment generates commitment to the tasks necessary to meet objectives.

10.Challenge your management team. Reliance on team effectiveness minimizes risk by being more flexible and adaptive than relying on a single individual. No one individual alone can jeopardize success. The loss of one team member can be overcome without losing sight of the objectives.

Sometimes, the basic strategies can be the most powerful.  Granted, it's nothing new or earth-shattering, but - as my SWAT buddies will tell you - following the basics saves lives.

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