Saturday, March 25, 2017

Team Work and Lan Yu Chong Shu

Here is a Chinese Story about 濫竽充數 ( Lan Yu Chong Shu):

During the warring states period (475 – 221B.C.) in ancient China, the King of the state of Qi was very fond of listening to music played on Yu, a wind instrument made of bamboo and wood.   The King convened musicians from all the states and formed a large royal band with 300 musicians.  When he wanted to listen to
the music, he would call in the whole band to play Yu together.  The ensemble was spectacular and the sound was thunderous to ears, but the King seemed to quite enjoy the effect, so he kept this habit all the time.

One day, the King announced to his kingdom people that he would like to expand his Yu band, and anyone who was good at playing Yu would be admitted with handsome pay.  A man called Mr. Nan Guo heard this news.  He knew nothing about playing Yu, but he knew well about the King’s habit.  So he passed him off as a Yu player and was enrolled in the royal band as expected.
Every time when the band played Yu, Mr. Nan Guo sat in the ensemble and pretended to play very hard. In fact, he made no sound at all.  His tricks went very well, and he had never been exposed.  In this way, he made a lot of money.
Later, the King died, and his prince succeeded to the throne.  The new king was a Yu lover too.  But he had a different habit from his father:  He preferred solo to ensemble.  He would order his musicians to play Yu in front of him one by one.  Realizing that there was no place for him to play the trick, Mr. Nan Guo ran out of Qi in panic.

How do we define "Team Work"?

Here is the feedback I heard.

We always work a team.  You should not separate us.  Why do you make us work independently?
When we work a team, we perform better.

The music from a band or from an orchestra definitely sounds different from a solo performer.

However, as the director of a orchestra, I still need to hear instrument individually to make sure that everyone does the job as expected.  Audience will listen to our performance.  The director of the team is not just an audience.  He sometime needs to listen the individual's performance.

Here is another feedback I heard.

Scrum method is about empowering the team.  We should avoid intervene the team's work.  You should let the team to design the product and not design for them.  Letting them design and make technical decisions will let them growth.  Your intervention is affecting our performance and is not letting us growth.

Provide the product's technical direction is not designing the products for individuals.
Actually the managers at every level is responsible for the performance, including the design decisions made are his or her organization.

Growing can be by learning from people who have the expertise and knowledge.  This does not have to go through lecture or going through "directing".  However, interactions and reviews are necessary.  Discussing is part of the learning.

Learning by mistakes at the cost of quality or at the cost of customer's issue and company's bad performance is not an option.

Part of the manager's job is to find the "Lan Yu".  "Lan Yu" affects the team's performance and discourage those people who really perform or would like to work in a high performing organization.  Employees need to feel proud of the products and the process.

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