How to build a team with Lego

Sunday Matinee

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discovered a great insight about leadership whilst watching an animated film with my boy. For those of you who remember Captain Barnacles’ lessons on leadership, you’ll not be surprised by this one.

One Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, we were watching (not for the first time) The Lego Movie. This is one of those great movies that appeals rather cleverly to young and older alike. Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, it turns out that The Lego Movie is right. Everything is cool when you are part of team.

Individual bricks

We’ve been working on our growth plan at ThinkWinDo. There were some surprising moments in the process – and it really laid bare our strengths and weaknesses as we imagined where we wanted to get to, what we needed to do to get there and exactly how we would do it.

One of us announced to the group – ‘I don’t know what the vision is. I’m not good at big picture.’ Which came as a surprise to the rest of us.

Another of us fell to pieces when trying to develop the process and the specific actions we would take to deliver. Which maybe didn’t so much. d

And the other couldn’t quite think outside the box of the resource we’ve got now, rather than imagining the resource that we would need.

But, equally, between the three of us, our strengths (conveniently) gave us what we needed.

One of us does have the vision to imagine what we could look like in 1, 2 and 3 years time.

One of us does see exactly the strategic steps and resource we need to put in place to move towards that.

One of us does have a razor-sharp grasp of detail and can build the step-by-step processes we need in our operations and business development.

On our own, we’ve very different strengths and very different weaknesses. We’d be able to do some pretty cool stuff. But, as a group, we can build a much stronger package. In this particular example, I’m hoping that the blend of vision, strategy and tactics is exactly what we needed to develop a strong plan for growth.

The Lego Way

In The Lego Movie, the moment of revelation for Emmet and his friends is when they realise that the individual genius of the various Master Builders is not enough. They need the very different, ‘in-the-box’ thinking of Emmet to bring them together as a team, unleash the full power of their creativity to defeat the evil President Business and save the world from total destruction.

In the real world – see, I know that this is only an animated fiction – we often need reminding of this revelation. We can do things on our own, using the strength of our own individual talents. But, we will always get more done by understanding not only our own strengths and weaknesses, but those of our team around us – and enabling everyone to work in their sweet spot, where they will make the highest contribution to our organisation.

Note to self

I’ve always tried to do this but, like the example above, it’s always been done by instinct and ‘feel’ rather than any systematic process. (Guess which one is me in the story above.)

There are some tools that would really support this – and I really think that we should be using them. At the simplest level, even doing something like a Belbin or a Myers-Briggs can tell us a great deal about our team-mates and allow us to focus everyone on their highest areas of contribution.

I’m really interested in taking a look at Strengthfinders – which I’ve read a lot about. Strengthfinders analyses your strengths in 34 different thematic areas – and highlights your top 5. I really like Michael Hyatt’s description of how he plots the strengths of his entire team to see what you have and what you need. So, this is just another note to self to get the book!

Do you know where the strengths lie in your team?
Do you know where you own strengths lie?
If you did know, what do you think would be possible?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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