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Real Teamwork

I tried dog sledding for the first time today and I must say it was an amazing experience. From the moment we got off the bus until the time we got back to the dog center, the guides were dedicated to making this a really great afternoon for all of us.

This post is not about promoting the tour operator [drop me an email if you would like more information about the dog sledding tours] but about an interesting analogy that I thought about once the tour was over. I apologize ahead of time as I do not mean to discriminate the dogs by comparing them to humans ;-).

As a consulting organization we are often asked to help companies with their adoption of the Agile project management methods. One of the first paradigm we have to deal with is team self-management and for many reasons, seeing these dogs in action triggered the following thoughts:

  • each of these dog had a specific role to play and each dog knew what was expected of them;
  • without collaboration the 5 dogs would not be able to pull the weight of the sled and its riders;
  • every time the sled came to a complete stop, the dogs knew to get some rest and eat snow (i.e. drink);
  • after a few minutes, they knew it was time to get going so they all started barking – I was told it was a sign they were happy to start pulling again;
  • one of the dog was responsible to notify the others when it was time to start pulling again;
  • at the end of the ride, the dogs seemed happy to have accomplished their duty and expected nothing more than a biscuit and to be petted.

Humans are obviously much more evolved and cohesive team dynamics is certainly more difficult to achieve but the results of collaboration and self-managed team can be as impressive as these dogs pulling our sled.

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