If, as Thomas Edison suggested, the best thinking is done alone, then it follows that the best work should be done in solitude.

Not so.

People working in teams turn in consistently better results than blokes who work alone. Teams harness the experience and expertise of each member to solve a common problem or meet a common challenge ... teams are small and flexible enough to respond quickly to new challenges.

But then you do get people who "prefer to work alone".

"Teams stifle individuality," they claim. Each member is expected to work for the common good. Yet no one is given an opportunity to cover himself in glory.

You've heard the outdated philosophy amongst the serious stalwarts of conservatism that says if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. And if you cock it up, well, you've only got yourself to blame.

It happened in the early 1980s at a major electronics company, Texas Instruments. The President and Chief Executive Officer decided to embark on a go-it-alone course that took the corporation to the edge of the abyss. The two big deals by-passed the company's marketing experts and ignored product developers to design a new personal computer. The machine was uniquely Texas Instruments: it wasn't compatible with any other hardware or software then on the market.

Employees from all departments repeatedly warned the executive do-it-yourselfers that the new computer wouldn't sell because compatibility was an essential element in personal computer marketability.

Texas Instruments' two big-wigs told their minions to shut up and so as they were told. And so the new incompatible computer went to market. It was a fiasco. The company lost millions, and the board gave the President and Chief Executive Officer their marching orders.

Way to go if you want the business to slide beneath the waves.

Working as a member of a team and obeying team rules isn't natural. Freiderich Nietzche, the legendary German psychologist, put it more scientifically: "At the bottom, every man knows he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvellously picturesque piece of diversity in unity, such a she is, ever be put together a second time."

However, organising company workforces into lean teams is the "in" thing at the moment, and you don't want to be seen trying to swim against the tide. So vote in favour of the teamwork concept. But do it your way. It's relatively easy to stem saam while, in reality, scuppering the touted benefits. Your success in failing depends on the way you put your team together.

It's in your best interest to select members who have non-compatible skills and clashing temperaments. IT also helps if you set a range of confusing goals and objectives.

Also remember that the best and most apparently cohesive of teams will split at the seams if you subject them to certain relentless pressures. So constantly stir up the dirt by sowing the seeds of mistrust between members. Ensure that planned-for outside help arrives too late, if at all. Spread despondency and a feeling of hopelessness by constantly proclaiming the impossibility of completing the project on time, to specification and within budget. Obscure objectives to derail forward momentum. And disband the team immediately anyone makes an error - even an inconsequential error.

In addition, to really maak die poppa dans, follow these 10 easy-to-implement guidelines:



Don't empower any member of the team to make any decisions that will effect the project-in-hand.


Don't share the workload equitably. Load some members of the team with a disproportionate amount of the drudge work.


Ensure that each team has more than its fair share of bellicose, know-it-all, sergeant major types. Remember: too many manne spoil the brothel.


Make sure that each team member knows that you're looking over his shoulder.


Encourage bickering between members.


If one member's performance falls below par; disband the entire team


Encourage members of the team to spend a lot of time at meetings. In discussion and in gripe sessions. If necessary, give them something to gripe about.


Promote destructive, interpersonal rivalry by publicly favouring some team members more than others.


Upset smooth teamwork by regularly changing goals and objectives without prior notice.


Shun small, flexible teams. Insist on large, unwieldy teams that have no commitment to achieving ill-defined goals and objectives.

1. I thought I made it clear
2. Let's not rock the boat
3. We tried that once before
4. Who cares? It's the company time after all
5. I'm the boss. Do as I say
6. I can't stand change
7. We made the cuts, now lets get back to work
8. I'll do it as soon as possible
9. I prefer to work alone
10. Speaking as a Nestlé man
11. Get him on the line!
12. I've got 20 years experience
13. Let's keep it confidential
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