Dumbfounded by teamwork

As the date for the first match of the 2019 Cricket World cup approached (like the run-up of a fast bowler?) I began to worry. How was I going to watch? Although we have a big TV, the TV is not connected to any cable company, nor do we subscribe to any sports channels.

Then I read about the services offered by two separate services that, jointly, would enable me to watch all the matches of the World Cup over the two-month period for the princely sum of $20. I think that fee is amazingly cheap for the experience I will enjoy.

What is even more amazing is that I can watch live-action, as-it-happens, ball-by-ball cricket on my TV, on my PC or on my smart phone. I am not restricted to any one device, location or sofa. The only work I must do to enjoy this miracle (apart from earning the $20 fee) is to decide which app on which device I need to activate.

Even though this technology has become taken-for-granted, it remains astounding. At least to me. Yet, there is something involved in all of this which I, with my type of work experience, find even more astonishing. This something is invisible to me, to you and to all the viewers. It is something we never think about because it is truly a case of out of sight out of mind.

Consider how many people must work together in different teams from different companies in different countries on different continents so that I can enjoy watching a game of cricket taking place somewhere in England, as it happens in real time!

(I have now used the words ‘amazing’, ‘astounding’ and ‘astonishing,’ which means I will have to use ‘flabbergast’ next.)

Even though I am amazed, astounded and astonished by it all, I am flabbergasted that there are management consultants and business gurus who tell us that businesses can learn a lot about team work by copying how sports teams do it.

No! No! No!

It is ridiculous for business teams to try to be like sports teams. And it can be dangerous. Here’s why:

  • Sports teams train and prepare for only one sport. Team members know exactly which sport they’re playing, how to play it and which rules apply. How simple!
  • Sports teams wear uniforms so that they can easily spot and identify the competition. They also introduce themselves as the competition before each game. How polite!
  • Competing teams agree to respect the umpire (or referee). Umpires (or referees) tend to be very visible, very loud and very strict. How reassuring!
  • Best of all, sports teams face only one competitor at a time, at a date and place agreed on well in advance. How convenient!

In business you do not have these luxuries, which is why I think sports teams should study how business teams do it.

The next time your TV picture blinks or stutters for a few seconds, don’t be annoyed. Be what I am when it happens to me — be dumbfounded. Be dumbfounded that your picture stays on for as long as it does as clear as it does. And then send thanks to those thousands of individuals working together in different teams from different companies in different countries on different continents to make sure that you must struggle to decide which app on which device you want to click to watch something happening in real time some place far away.

Howzat!?