The team that cooks together, stays together.
Recently the Cisco APJC (Asia Pacific, Japan, China) leadership team got together for an offsite meeting in Bangalore, India – one of the main hubs for Cisco in the region. It was a great few days and one of the personal highlights for me was a team cooking session.
We started by dividing into teams. Each of us was given a workstation, some raw ingredients and some impressively sharp cooking tools.
As I launched into the task I was given (cutting onions and fighting back onion tears), I started to notice that this cooking activity could teach us a thing or two about how great teams work together.
The first thing that made an impression on me was how eager everyone was to participate and get involved! I don’t know if that was a genuine love of cooking, a willingness to demonstrate expertise or if people we simply hungry as we had delayed lunch. The intention was that each team shared their dish amongst the whole group, so we were all working towards a common goal of feeding each other and not causing stomach distress.
Everyone is important.
As we got into the swing of things after a brief from our expert Head Chef it became clear what a great leveler this activity was going to be. I am no great cook, the plain fact is I only cook one real dish and that is, if I don’t say so myself, a quite authentic Thai beef salad.
So no surprise I quickly found myself relegated to, “Chris can you peel onions..? Good – there are 5 – hurry up please boss.” Everyone was working towards a common goal, and there were no problems with “who’s in charge?”
Everyone has a role.
As I painfully progressed and after 5 minutes or so (1 onion down,) I noticed that the team I was in had socially, amicably and very efficiently divided itself into various tasks. There were no arguments, discussions yes on how to prepare and in what order etc and all with a focus on the end common goal. A goal which was shared for everyone in the room, not just our team.
Everyone has fun.
Somehow it was more than just a goal of a completed meal, it was a celebration!
Working together, having fun along the way with a hint of competition between teams yet with common goals in focus.
The constant, vibrant, constructive animated chatter and laughter.. yes laughter – actually seemed to contribute towards productivity.
Was it that we were cooking food later to eat? Was it simply time away from the office? Or was it that the teams were clearly engaged in working towards a common goal good for all.
The five-hour session ended in the consumption of delicious Indian dished of many varieties, much more laughter and friendly banter and much congratulating and back slapping.
I started to ponder, why isn’t work like that all the time?
I think teams that great effectively demonstrate these 4 aspects have the “secret sauce.”
My last thought before attacking my email inbox was, how fortunate I am to a member of a great team.
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Teaming can be very complex especially if people feel excluded. Like your advice have fun and include everyone.
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