The goal is more important than the role

The Law of the Big Picture is but one of the powerful principles John C. Maxwell explains in his book The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team. While reading this book, which I certainly recommend, I was particular drawn to the following laws:

#2) The Law of the Big Picture – The goal is more important than the role.

  • Capture and communicate vision.
  • When you see the big picture correctly, you serve the team more quickly.
  • Great vision precedes great achievement.

#6) The Law of the Catalyst – Winning teams have players who make things happen.

  • Catalysts are get-it-done-then-some people who are intuitive, communicative, passionate, talented, creative, initiating, responsible, generous and influential.

#7) The Law of the Compass – Vision gives team members direction and confidence.

  • Moral compass (look above)
  • Intuitive compass (look within)
  • Historical compass (look behind)
  • Directional compass (look ahead)
  • Strategic compass (look around)
  • Visionary compass (look beyond)

#11) The Law of the Scoreboard – The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands.

  • A scoreboard is essential to understanding, to evaluating, to decision making, to adjusting and to winning.
  • When you know what to do, then you can do what you know.

#15) The Law of the Edge – The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership.

  • Personnel determines the potential of the team.
  • Vision determines the direction of the team.
  • Work ethic determines the preparation of the team.
  • Leadership determines the success of the team.

I have the privilege of working with a talented and committed group of developers on the product line whose architecture for which I am responsible. I believe that one of the reasons we work effectively together is that we’re able to practice what a mentor to me earlier in my career may have called The Law of the Potluck. Just like folks tend to bring their favorite, tried-and-true dishes to any potluck, a software development project may present an opportunity to bring together individuals with particular expertise into a cohesive and complete effort that can result in a fantastic product release. The goal is to identify individual team member strengths that in combination with other teammates’ skills lead to synergistic productivity and inspired levels of problem space ownership and more rapid solution discovery.

However, as anyone taking part in a potluck knows, you can end up with two much of one dish and not enough of another, as the meal progresses or as participants change. Enter The Law of the Big Picture. Recall what can make a start-up experience so energizing. There is work to do, and it’s up to me to get it done. Never mind the nature of the work, there’s a product to release! That’s the spirit of project catalysts, and it starts with each team member, but especially in the team leader.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.