Monday, May 30, 2011

Who's Big Idea Was It, Anyway?

As creative types, we're constantly being asked, "Who came up with that idea?" and, likely, our knee-jerk reaction is, "It was a team effort." Oh, we know who it was. Though, odds are, we think it was "me", but the truth is that it is more often than not a team idea. Someone might have had the 'a ha' moment, but nothing happens in a vacuum.

But, when bad things happen, we tend to be more quick to point specific fingers. "Who dropped the ball, here?" they ask and we answer, "It was ________." Then, acting as a leader, we say, "But we'll work on it and make sure he/she learns from this mistake."

I question this approach.

Why do we succeed as a team and fail as individuals? Why can't it be the other way around?

You might say that it should be a team/team effort. I.e "We succeed as a team and we fail as a team." Or "There is no 'I' in t-e-a-m." (But there is a 'm' and an 'e.')

Sounds great, but the team/team approach doesn't reward individual effort and accomplishment.

As coaches, we are told to critique the team (the individual will know he/she messed up) and applaud individuals (since we want to encourage 'above and beyond' effort.)

In business, I often see the reverse and, well, I wonder why. Maybe because we think all good ideas are our own and we're simply being humble. If so, then maybe the team/team approach is the best after all.

Anyway, I now find myself responding to "Who's ideas was this?" or "Who dropped the ball here?" with a "Why?" Not that I refuse to answer the question, but I'm curious what they plan to do once they have the name.

Would enjoy learning your thoughts here.

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