It’s common to talk about business with metaphors, and one of the most common compares a high-functioning business to a “well-oiled machine.” It highlights the idea of different parts and pieces fitting together to create a moving whole that does something – more often than not, moving forward. Unfortunately, in their quest to build that well-oiled machine, most leaders ignore the most important piece of the puzzle.
Let’s get very specific about our well-oiled machine. Let’s say it’s a sports car, maybe a Ferrari. It has a top-of-the-line engine, race-quality tires, and steering and controls that respond to the lightest touch. Taken separately, they are best available, but if they don’t interact with each other, nothing happens.
The critical step is connecting all of these elements. Without the ability to interact, this isn’t a high-performance vehicle; it’s just a bunch of spare parts.
Why Do Leaders Fail at Connecting Their Teams?
It’s ironic that many leaders focus so many resources on bringing all of the pieces together and then drop the ball on the most important step. Hiring the best talent is important. Having cutting-edge technology is important. Developing innovative solutions is important. But if they can’t interact together, you can’t leverage any of these resources.
This is especially telling in companies that don’t foster strong relationships between their people. Organizations that lack strong internal connections miss out on the fundamental ways to get things done. Relationships become the catalyst for creating forward momentum from all of the individual ingredients.
Take talent for example. If you put 10 of the smartest engineers in a room together and they don’t engage with each other, bounce ideas off of each other, support each other – well, you’re losing out on most of their value. The basic premise of an organization is that the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. If you think of it as a math equation: part+part+part=sum greater than the whole, relationships are the addition symbols.
We tend to shy away from looking at the interconnections between our people as a source of strength, because they are hard to measure. There are so many variables involved in human relationships that we often think of them as a black box that we can’t really understand. On an organizational level, it’s also been a challenge to find quantitative data on relationships. It’s easier (if less instructive in the long-run) to look at spreadsheets than it is to honestly examine the relationships between our people.
Organizations Need to Leverage Relationships
Technology is beginning to offer us more and more ways to track and understand the variables that can turn our team into a well-oiled machine. This information, however, can only be as useful as our willingness to use it. The first step is to recognize the central role that relationships play in determining the success of our endeavors.
You can put the best engine around into your car, but if it’s not connected to a great transmission and tires, it just sits there. Internal relationships are the way to ensure that you can leverage everything you’ve created into a machine that’s going places. Make sure that it holds a place in your strategy commensurate with its importance.
This article originally appeared on the blog over by my friends at Syndio. Check it out (and other fun relationship analytics content) here!