Month: August 2013

Present History

Someone once said that we should learn from history in order not to repeat past mistakes. How about learning from our present situation in order to understand what happened in the past.
Use what we know about our past to better understand our present situation. What previously worked very well, will still work, and what works now would have worked back then.
I hope that this will serve as an inspiration to look into and understand what might have happened some thousand years ago. In addition, if I am correct, this will be useable present day.

I have a personal fascination of the Viking era for various reasons. I have spent hours trying to figure out how they thought back then, if they thought much differently from what we do now.
I tried to compare a few thoughts, stretched them from then to here in order to make use of past and present knowledge now.

It is an undisputed fact that the better you work as a team, the more you are capable of, as a team. In any team there is a chieftain, there are the ore men, the cook. Each playing a signification role in making the raid a success. Vikings used sails and ores navigating all over Europe, across the Atlantic, what better way to build a team spirit than to row. For those of you who have tried rowing as a team, you know that if just one ore man is not following the rest, it will work poorly. This is even more important when you are fighting for your life, if just one person fights without hearth, the entire team will suffer from it. So first factor that gave the Vikings the edge; Teambuilding from rowing.
Today we spent hours on different schemes, games and events trying to build up the same type of team spirit. By hours, I of course mean money. Because this is the interesting part. How do you know the value you are getting, if you are even getting any.
The Vikings had hours and hours of teambuilding. When they fought their adversaries, they fought them as a team. Stop wasting money on games and events and start rowing as a team.

It is an undisputed fact that exercise is good for you. How little or how much is always the question; however, exercise will without question move the boundary of your fatigue. Let us remember the rowing part. Rowing is generally considered a full body workout, hence the hours spent rowing when not using sails, getting from Scandinavia the nearest islands, European continent or up the rivers of Ukraine takes a little time. That exercise made the team strong and healthy. Being in a better physical condition, will introduce fatigue slower when fighting in armor, with steel swords and axes, carrying oaken shields. As a team, if one person is fatigued, the rest of the team will suffer from it, on the morale or directly as a missing team member.
Today it is not considered a team effort to be in good health, it is your own personal responsibility. Some of your team members might be doing a lot of exercise, some may not being anything at all.
The Vikings had hours and hours of good hard exercise, working as a team. They pushed their limit of fatigue as a team, not as an individual. Maybe it is time to consider exercising with your team. Rowing maybe?

All in the same boat
In the Viking ages, the raiding or merchant ships were the homes. Onboard a boat there are no short steps away from the team. You are all moving, living and breathing on the same planks. You are all there to insure its movement, stability and direction. No one stands outside the boat, everyone faces the same perils. That gave you not only as an individual the desire to perform at your best, but it encouraged the entire team to perform their best. All in the same boat, was not just about perils and survival, it was also about sharing the loot. Each member of the boat was entitled to a share of the loot, based on rank or was divided amongst everyone on the boat.
Today we are very focused on performance, individual performance as well as team performance, however not all are sailing the same boat. The company is in one boat, the team is in another and lastly the individual is in one. Find out who should be in which boat and make sure that they understand that if the boat does not make it, neither will you or your team.
Vikings did not have much to lose; it was indeed all or nothing. When you fight knowing, that you only have one thing to loose, everything – you become very focused on not losing. At the same time, winning as a team, gave everyone a part of the loot.

I do not hold any management degree, nor fancy titles. In addition, I know that most of the above can be explained; commented maybe even addressed using some management term or technique learned at some school or x months of course work. However, in same cases it is just easier to take it all basic and just build it from there. If your team does not follow you, you’re not a team anyway.