Improving Performance Across Teams: Shared Learning

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About half of my children are involved in the St John Youth program around the city, and for a couple of them, what happens in the local, regional and national competitions is of high interest. Several have been to local and regional competitions to date, and even if they aren’t involved directly, pay attention to the results from any competition that involves their fellow cadets.

The National competitions for this year have just been held in our country, and for the seventh year in a row, a team from our region has won yet again. In terms of the regions, the other squads come from more densely populated areas (or “greater choice of talent”), and for some, areas where the wealth is greater than where we live (or “greater access to resources”). Which makes for an interesting question: why does our region win year-after-year, especially when the team composition is variable year-on-year?

One potential answer is that it’s the coaches in this region. Aligned with the idea that great coaches create superior performers, I wonder what would happen to the rankings across the country if the coaches were switched around for the competition next year. Could the coaches who have done so well even with changing team composition in this region pull off a win if they were transported to another region and given a different national squad to train? Of course, one of my kids doesn’t like this idea. “They can’t have our coaches,” I was told when I suggested it yesterday. “We don’t want another region to win.” That’s quite a lot of red energy for a teenager!

Shared Learning in Organisational Life

But surely it’s the fundamental question that should be asked by any organisation that sees systematic variation in performance across teams in different parts of its operations. Why the difference? Especially when one team outperforms other teams year-after-year, even when the team composition changes. While “Why the difference?” is the first question, the second is, “So how do we spread that learning across our organisation so we can uplift the capability of everyone in our organisation to win?” This is where an investment in building communities of practice across an organisation can work so well; people share what is and isn’t working, and the exchange of different ideas and approaches provides fodder for consideration and experimentation more broadly. This shared learning can be ad hoc and individualised, or more systematic via incorporation into new and updated “best practices.”

Perhaps in competition situations, it is harder to develop this line of thinking (where top talent can attract top pricing), but in organisational life when a shared and common mission pulls everyone together, learning from the best and spreading good ideas is core and fundamental to lifting future performances.

Our eBook Collaboration Framework addresses collaboration issues among teams and communities. It provides a useful guideline to better manage these conflicts and improve the performances of all the teams across your organisation. 

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