In a recent article, Tomasz Tunguz explained why individuals naturally overestimate their contribution to a team project. He explained that we all have a natural bias because we can see all the hard work that we are contributing to a team effort, and fail to fully comprehend the work that others are also putting in. This leads to resentment among team members who feel that - rightly or wrongly - they alone are carrying the team.
Tomasz goes on to suggest some good ways that individuals can combat this natural bias - mainly revolving around being more aware of what others in your team are doing: “Constant communication engenders healthy teams. The more visibility teammates have into each other’s work, the greater the sense of common sacrifice and camaraderie.” This can be quite simple to combat in a small team, e.g. with weekly standups, but what about in large, geographically diverse teams in a major organisation?
In these situations, it’s not uncommon for teams or individuals to become siloed, only aware of their own role without a picture of how they fit into the project or programme as a whole. When things start to go wrong in a situation like this, it’s easy for people to start pointing the finger elsewhere - and very difficult to get to the true root of the issue.
According to Medical Daily, “Because people are “naturally egocentric” they tend to focus on their own contributions and not take into account the work of others. This behaviour increases with group size because it is harder to consider everyone’s contributions when groups are larger.”
We found this to be the case in one major bank that was struggling to fulfil its CCAR requirements. The teams were so disjointed and siloed that each felt they were doing their job properly, and it was the other teams that must be causing the failure. The real problem turned out not to be one single team, but a more overarching issue of lacking systems, processes, accountability and, crucially, visibility.
So what can be done to create better visibility and a sense of common purpose between large, federated teams?
The right tools like Cutover make all the difference. When you have large, globally distributed teams it’s impossible to get everyone in a room and difficult to communicate what everyone is doing at once. The Cutover platform provides:
- Enterprise-wide visibility, keeping everyone on the same page and allowing individuals to see their actions in the context of the event as a whole. This also helps those running the event to see who is doing what and when, making it easy to solve issues or prevent them before they even happen.
- A comprehensive audit trail for post-event learning and regulatory reporting. This avoids reliance on human memory which can be flawed and instead provides real data on who did what and when.
- Real-time data, which allows people to make data-based decisions rather than relying on ad-hoc updates via phone and email. While human judgement will still be vital for using this data, decisions no longer have to be made using incomplete information.
- Increased collaboration due to better visibility and communications which avoids friction between departments and siloing of teams and information.
Whether teams are big or small, collocated or geographically dispersed, visibility, communication and collaboration are essential for producing the best results.