07 Jul Backwards Bike
During the course of a team-development experience, groups have the opportunity to assess their ability to work together. Soon into the first few activities, an area that needs improvement surfaces. Groups will recognize it, talk about it, and vow to change it. Then, as they work on the next activity, often the same issue comes up. The group falls right back into the old way of doing things. They know something needs to change, but don’t understand exactly how to change.
I came across a video that illustrates this perfectly. Check out this video from smartereveryday.com: Backwards Bike. In the video you see Destin try to ride a bike modified by some engineers. If he turns the handlebars one direction, the wheel goes the opposite direction. You can see how hard this concept is for him and everyone else to learn. Even though Destin knew how to ride the bike (turn the wheel the opposite direction you wish to go) he could not. In his words, “knowledge didn’t equal understanding.” He had to learn and practice a new way of riding. Eight months later it all came together!
Business is changing all the time. The old ways of doing things don’t always work. We can know that something new has to happen, but not understand how to do it. For example, as Team Synergy grew, communication became more challenging. The leadership knew and often talked about the importance of communicating with each other, but nothing changed until we developed a strategy. Just like Destin, it took practice and perseverance through the mistakes. Now our understanding has caught up to our knowledge, and we are pedaling forward.
What does your team need to do differently? Your people probably know change is needed, but until time is taken to develop understanding, the team will continue in the old ways of doing things. When we work with teams, one of our goals is to help groups understand what needs to change and strategize plans to address it. The change may seem awkward at first – like riding a backwards bike – but the more it is practiced, the more it becomes natural.