Polls, rankings, and reputations

College football season is just around the corner, and with the start of a new season comes... polls.

"Who's the best team in the country?" the polls ask. Whom do they ask? Coaches, writers, pundits. And they vote, and they come up with rankings for the Top 25 teams in the country.

Do the rankings actually determine who the winners and losers will be?

Of course not. Only the teams, playing the actual games, determine that.

So the polls don't matter... right?

Yes and no.

They don't dictate who will win or lose any particular game. That's up to the team.

But they help raise or lower expectations of a team vis-a-vis its opponents. That can change the way they prepare, the attitude they bring to the field, and how they react to situations during the 60 minutes of regulation.

It also helps shape the end-of-season choices about who plays in which bowl game... which, also, helps determine who the number one team is. And number two, etc.

It relates to business in this way:

What people think of us matters. Not in terms of how good we are at doing our jobs - but at how good people THINK we are at doing our jobs.

And what people think of how good we are at our jobs can determine whether we even get a chance at performing for them.

What are you doing with your team to enhance your team's reputation?



Teamwork: Run, Teams, Run

Hood to Coast, the largest relay race in the world starts tomorrow, August 23.

This event features twelve-person teams who propel themselves along a 198-mile route by foot from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood (elevation 6000 feet) to the small coastal town of Seaside, Oregon. Teams depart at 6:30 AM and are expected to arrive in Seaside by early evening on Saturday.

The event is a great example of how teams should work.


  • Every person contributes a known, fixed amount of the work (running). Expectations are clear.
  • The team's success depends on individuals' success.
  • If one person falters, there are eleven others to help pick them up.
  • Not every member of the team runs. Some perform critical support functions - e.g. driving the team van to ensure the next runner is in place at the exchange point and the tired teammate is picked up for a much needed rest.
  • Good communication is essential.
  • Universal buy-in is essential.
  • Planning and preparation are key, but so is being able to respond to unexpected situations on the ground. If someone can't go on, the next person up needs to fill in.
We at Run Brain Run celebrate the many individuals and teams who participate and make this such a great Pacific Northwest event.




Lessons in Team Building: Rub a dub Grub

Provide some grubSo, you want to get your team away from the office for a great outing. You've identified some fun options that will also give your team time to mingle, get to know each other, build trust, and improve communications.

What are you going to feed them?

Didn't think of that? Huh. Maybe it's time to rethink.

Food is a key aspect of your team outing. It helps keep everyone's energy up. It keeps the group together for that much longer. It keeps them talking, and often gives them something to talk about. It provides a built-in rest break - often another key aspect to a successful outing.

If you don't have food plans, you don't have successful team outing plans.

And if that's the case, your team isn't bonding.

So, you want a great outing?

Provide some grub.



Lessons in Team Building: Getting Away

Getting awayAs we continue our series on lessons learned in team building, one thing stands out very clearly.

You can't do team building, or team bonding, or organizational development, or whatever you want to call it, at your usual work location.

Not to say that you can't improve your team on an everyday basis. In fact, that's essential.

But to make a team building event stand out - to make it special and memorable - you need to get away from the desk, factory, retail counter or construction site.

You need to make team building the main (if not only) focus of the event. Which you can't do if people are tied to their email, phones, desks, tools, or service counters.

By taking them to a different location, everyone gets it:  we're not here to perform our regular day to day jobs. We're here for something different.

Better yet: if you work indoors, take them outdoors for team building. And vice versa.

But above all... get out of the office.





Lessons in Team Building: Starting Small

Start smallSometimes organizations get caught in a teamwork tailspin, where everything careens out of control. People stop working well together, don't communicate, lose trust, stop backing each other up, and so forth.

Productivity takes a dive just as steep, and the work place becomes no fun any more.

In such cases, leaders are tempted to take drastic, "big" steps. They bring in reorg consultants, start reassigning portfolios, changing business practices, even firing people.

Why not start smaller?

Sometimes a small step can reverse the negative trends by rebuilding confidence in the team. Demonstrating simple reminders that communicating, sharing credit, helping each other out, and taking small leaps of faith can be infectious. Good deeds get rewarded, or "paid forward" as the saying goes.

Sometimes just getting the team out of the office, doing something fun is enough to boost morale and get people on the path to being good team mates again. Especially if they act as a team in some simple, fun activity that gives them opportunities to trust, communicate, and get to know each other.

Besides, starting small is less expensive and less risky.

Try it. Start small. Let it grow to something bigger.



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