Sunday, June 15, 2008

Learning - Maturity

Watching two games of netball last weekend I witnessed an example of team maturity.

The first game was children learning their favourite game. Two good teams, but both are still learning how to play the game. Both sides were "teams", people drawn together with a purpose and direction. They worked together to achieve a goal - no pun intended.

The second game was a professional game with highly skilled and trained athletes. These teams are made up of masters of the game, some of the best players in the world were on the court. The rules were the same as the first game and the outcome was just as close (one point) but the execution was different.

The first teams were strongly focused on what they needed to do in their role, where they could go on the court, where their matched opponent was, what ritual in the game was being performed. The children would stop suddenly at the sideline or the line of their zone. They knew if they were Centre there was another Centre to look for, when the ball left their zone they stopped as there was nothing more they could do. They exemplified a strong demarcation in their roles and actions, and this is part of learning about the game. Just like learning a new role, or new job.

The second teams were markedly different. Apart from the skill, the boundaries were constantly being pushed. The ball moved forward, across and back down the court with the one team working as an organism attempting to achieve their purpose. Individual marking was replaced with a zone, if one-on-one marking was required marking your exact opposing player was less relevant, what mattered was that opposition players were all marked. The lines of the court meant Jump! Stretch! as the players played the ball in the air, not touching down out of the court or offside until they had passed. The team worked within the rules but pushed each one.

What am I going on about?

A team that works within its rules and boundaries without pushing these can achieve their goal, but is an immature team or a team that is learning what it can do. A great team is the team that pushes their boundaries to achieve their goals. The focus shifts from individual effort first to team first.

Hardly profound

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