July  2012     Edition 82
Great Teams, Need and Critical Thinking

Think about the best, most enjoyable and successful team

you have ever been on. What made that team so great? The one attribute we see in almost every case of great teams is that the team members have a common Need. Let's explain Need.

Need is a word often misused

. How many times have you heard "I need this", or "we need to do this", or "the boss needs this"? It might be a need, a necessity, but often it's a want. We want a lot of things, but we Need the things that are Necessary.

Understanding the Need behind an initiative

is crucial to get people aligned and behind that initiative. For example; "We need to improve our productivity". Of course that's a want that just about every business has, but is it a Need ... is it Necessary? You have to ask, "Why is it NECESSARY to improve productivity?". If productivity isn't improved will the company go out of business, will it be overtaken by competition, will it lose customers, will it become unprofitable, will it be able to innovate and create the next breakthrough idea, or will you lose your job? What is the NEED? If you want to align and get people excited, motivated, and charged to accomplish a goal, there is no greater motivation than when they recognize why it is necessary for them to accomplish the task.

Back to teams

... When everyone on a team has a common Need, they are all focused, they are all aligned and marching to the same tune. Politics goes away, personal agendas go away. Everyone is "on the same page", focused on the same objective. Priorities are clear. Perhaps you have heard the expression, "A team is gelled". Teams Gel when there is a common need.

What does this have to do with Critical Thinking? One of the first steps in Critical Thinking is to understand why it is necessary to solve the problem that is being presented. This helps to get clear on the real problem to be solved. It helps to determine how big a problem it is, how it affects other aspects of the business, why it's so important. As you look at the Need, you might discover that the problem isn't really important at all, or the problem isn't what you initially thought it to be, and is something else.

Need is also present in creativity.

Plato said, "Necessity is the mother of invention". Breakthrough and creative thinking is stimulated when it is Necessary, with no choice ... it must happen. Innovation requires a clear Need, and while some inventions are by accident, most are driven by a Need.

Lastly, Need is also part of decision making.

Decisions are made because there is a Need to make them. People procrastinate because they don't Need to do something now, so they put it off because they can do it later. However, at one point, if something is going to get done, there will be a Need for it to be done, it will become Necessary. One of the major reasons why decisions are not made in a timely manner is that the decision maker doesn't understand or recognize the Need.

The Takeaway:
Spend time at the early stages of problem solving by taking a real close look at what the Need is. Why is this Necessary ... for the business and individually for everyone on the team. Once the Need is vetted, the problem to be solved will be better understood, and the team will be aligned and successful.

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