“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
Mother Teresa is right. In our day-to-day life, especially at work, we often forget or miss the most important component of a team – that each member has a different strength. It is in a way, the strength as well as the weakness in a team. Strength – when each team member understands this fact and works in tandem to achieve targets by helping and supporting each other, and weakness when the team doesn’t understand this fact.
This was also the theme of a game that we played in one of our Continuous Learning sessions at work. Led by Sachin Gupta, one of our Software Testers, the game – Throw the Ball into the Bucket – showed us how important this component was for working as a team and its success. For someone who finds it difficult to say “no” to helping others (that’s such a rare quality in a person), it is not surprising that Sachin chose this game when it was his turn to lead a session.
Now, Sachin’s personality is very interesting. He is passionate about playing cricket and loves to cook. Sachin also loves his job of Software Testing and loves traveling with friends. His motto is, “if you dream big, you can achieve big.” One big part of why he loves his job is the motivation he gets from Vivek Jade, our CEO. Vivek’s humility and down-to-the-earth personality combined with the gentle way he encourages team members is an inspiration to Sachin.
The game is pretty simple, but it reached out to us in a very special way. We were divided into games of two. So boundaries were put up – we used floor tiles as boundaries or rather as columns to stand in. Out of the two, one of the team members had to throw a ball into the bucket that was held by the other member. The person throwing the ball couldn’t move from the place he or she was standing. Neither could the person catching the ball but they could swing or lean towards the side to catch the ball. The key was that the person who was throwing the ball was blindfolded. That meant that the person catching the ball had to give instruction – Nah – guide the person throwing the ball based on his or her last throw – throw higher up, lower, to the right, to the left, etc. Each team was given 1 minute to play the game. The team that caught the most balls in the bucket was declared the winner. The game was all about communication at one level, and at the other, it was about playing on each other’s strengths and understanding the vulnerabilities and guiding them towards team goals.
It was a session that everyone enjoyed – the fun coming from the missed catches and how the instructions were perceived. It was a mixed bag – some teams went ahead with a strategy in mind, some forget the strategy when it came to actually play the game – just imagine that! Some understood each other very well and worked in tandem – more of understanding what was communicated – like Yogita and Bhushan. They won the game with a score of 22. They credit the win to their intuition, communication and playing up on each other’s strength. Yogita, a good listener, kept her ears open to what Bhushan was saying, to the noise made by the ball landing in the bucket, etc. Bhushan, on the other hand, used the right words to make sure Yogita threw the ball correctly.
The game ended with everyone high on adrenalin and on the thought that every team member has a different strength and weakness, and to work on in a team and be successful at achieving targets or winning a team, it was important that you need to understand this fact and help and guide each other to reach that common goal. Phil Douglas Jackson couldn’t have put it better in these words:
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”