Moving a Table up the Stairs : Lessons in Teamwork

September 7, 2016 Blog

On April 20th, 2016 I began my first full day on the other side of Band of Coders. No longer a client but now part of the team at Band of Coders. My confidence in my ability to grow the company, coupled with seeing some values I’ve experienced as a client, are few things that made me join this team of rockstars. That display of values continued on “day one,” and serve as valuable lessons in teamwork we like to exhibit at BoC.

Picture this: I’m sitting in my office and all of a sudden I hear a flurry of activity outside my office door. I ask “what’s going on?” and I’m immediately supplied with the answer from a fellow staff member, Joanna Cherian: “Well, we have a new conference room table that’s been delivered, but they left it outside in the parking lot.” I ask “how big is it?” and Joanna replied, “really big,” with a huge emphasis on “really.”

Lesson #1: Gather the facts and assess the situation

So I quickly hop out of my seat and head downstairs to the rescue and appropriately assess what we were dealing with. Outside in the parking lot is a box that measured about 20 feet by 4 feet and weighed probably 400 pounds. My first thought is, “So much for white glove delivery.”

The next thing that came to mind is how BoC HQ is on the second floor of a building with no elevator. The staircase is tight, to say the least, and fraught with a few even smaller twists and turns.

There’s nothing more valuable than knowing what you’re dealing with before you face a problem. The information you collect will be important when designing a relevant strategy or program for success. We didn’t have the luxury of knowing out the details about the delivery prior to receipt, so we worked to resolve the task with what we knew.

Lesson #2: Taking the Bull by the Horns

After keen thought, I observe and reflect on what I witnessed before my eyes: the entire Atlanta based BoC team is now outside staring at this box … *crickets chirp* and nobody is saying much. After a long pause, chatter begins and the team suddenly starts to mobilize.

Of course, we first decide to take the table out of the box. From there, a few different scenarios are discussed. The risks are assessed (including the table cascading down the steps and crushing people) and an initial plan-in-motion is developed and executed.

The key here is that we took action without much hesitation. We didn’t rely on the original shippers to handle job, call a moving company (despite that being one of many discussed options), or let the daunting task stop us from getting things done.

Lesson #3: Know your strengths and face your fears

The team moves the table up the steps, quietly navigating the twists and turns of the staircase. All the while, a plan was outlined and a series of brief quiet moments happened again. After these pauses, we continued to discuss a few potential cause and effect scenarios, confer with each other and then the table would start to move some more. Let’s not forget that this sucker (the table) weighs about 400 pounds. Might I note the BoC Atlanta team is a great team of mystic gladiators toppling over any and all feats of development and technology – but we’re far from body builders. Just can’t win ‘em all.

It’s clear we didn’t have the strength to hurl the table up the stairs without restraint, but what we did have was determination and strength in numbers.

Lesson #4: Welcome Positive Dissention and Be Solutions Oriented

As always, we had some doubts and opposing views towards solving the problem. Naturally due to the lack of strength amongst us, a few members of the team weren’t confident in the ability to navigate the challenge. Others believed the weight distribution itself would be a problem when moving — I reiterate, the table was heavy enough to crush us during the maneuver. The opposing views and a little dissention ultimately didn’t stop us, nor did it deflate the motivation of the consensus to get the problem solved.

You need members of a team that can bring difference of opinion and perspectives to the table. A team also needs people who are thinkers capable of strategizing along with those simply there ready to execute no matter what the task. Despite opposition, it was all focused on how to solve the problem, rather than just complaining. Having a great mentality towards accomplishing the goal is truly a valuable asset to the BoC team.

So after we put our Juggernaut-like mental powers together while gripping aimlessly on the heavy table, we managed to get the table up, step-by-step, up to the second floor. Then eventually, maneuvered it to the back corner of the HQ and then into its current home, the conference room.

After reflecting on this hour-long task, we were left with a few more key pointers to support these lessons learned for use in team problem-solving situations:

  • When assessing a situation and developing a plan under time constraints, execute with confidence and adjust the plan as needed.
  • Include everyone on the team and remember that with the right team components, anything can be accomplished.
  • Trust each other and acknowledge that a well-constructed team synergizes well. Sometimes you don’t need to say to get things accomplished when you work together and understand what strengths everyone brings to the table.
  • Big challenges can be overcome with the right attitude towards reaching a goal and solving problems.
  • The BoC team elicits teamwork in all we do whether it be a table or on the job. And we take this very seriously.
  • So when you think something is impossible, sometimes it’s just a matter of putting all hands on deck, looking at the big picture and weighing options appropriately, and of course, focusing on task with a solutions-based approach. It’s our not-so-secret recipe on how to prevent toppling the 400-pound-table of problems here at Band of Coders!

    Have a teamwork story to share? We’d love to hear from you.

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    Mark Feinberg

    Serial entrepreneur and investor who enjoys building and growing high performance teams.

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