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Spirit of Teamwork (Management and Technology Development)

July 25, 2010

Recently, I participated in conversations with various federal officials overseeing the current American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) solicitations for renewable energy and with the presenters at a corporate meeting on innovation and leadership. The unifying thread of these conversations was the concern for effective collaboration and teamwork.  Throughout the conversations it was mentioned that there was reluctance by the innovator(s) to share or disclose their intellectual property regardless of NDAs  or patent filings. In fact, in many cases there was trepidation to even file for a patent for fear of public disclosure and the potential for reverse engineering or workarounds by the competition.

In this discussion, I will not argue the pros and cons for filling a patent, other than to say, in today’s highly competitive and technologically advanced global markets, it is rather difficult to commercialize an idea without some solid IP protection.

The main point of this discussion was a constant use of the word “team” in these conversations.

At one point, it was asked, “What do you mean by a team?” Answers included: “We have a proven management team who know how to work together.” And, “We meet frequently and are constantly e-mailing each other.” Though seeming to be good answers, they fell short of the underlying intent of a team.

Wikipedia defines teamwork as “a joint action by two or more people in which each person contributes with different skills and expresses his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group in order to achieve common goals.”

While this definition gets closer to what a team should be, several years ago, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the Disney creativity incubator Imaginarium’s guiding principal titled “Spirit of Teamwork.” It states:

“As a product concept moves through research and development to the marketplace, it will be very difficult for any one person to point to something and say, “That’s Mine,” because so many hands will have influenced it, made it better, built on it, and made it GREAT!”

So my message is this: yes, we have to be careful to protect our assets, but not to the point of impeding progress and improvements. If it is a truly good idea, make it great by sharing, collaborating and letting go as much as possible. Success will then be assured by a having a well-integrated and effective team that can provide the right product, at the right cost, at the right time, and at the right quality.

One of the key characteristics of a true leader is not only the ability to hire the right people but to utilize them to provide new ideas and gain deeper insight. If not, all you will be left with is a nice idea resident on your hard drive.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2010 4:16 PM

    Some very interesting information. It is important to keep the dialogue going and take action wherever we can. I was overjoyed to have recently driven through wind farms in Indiana and Illinois. Okay it is not a perfect solution but it is a significant step in the right direction.

  2. barryonenergy permalink*
    July 25, 2010 7:40 PM

    Thank you for your value-added comment.

    Many thanks,
    Barry Stevens, PhD
    Managing Director, TBD America, Inc.
    Skypes ID: barrystevens58
    LinkedIn Profile:

  3. July 26, 2010 7:54 AM


    Good comments about teamwork. I can’t imaging making good progress in my field, manufacturing, without good teamwork. Manufacturing plants with the best teamwork seem to make the most progress in their Continuous Improvement journey whether it’s Lean, TPS, TPM, Six Sigma, or other improvement model. Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Chris Paulsen

  4. Shigeya Furutani permalink
    March 25, 2013 9:03 AM

    Dear Barry san,

    I think one of the key elements of team building is an attractive leader. The leader must be a kind of person who is loved by his team mates and who can make them feel that they want to work for him. The talent of each person flourishes under such condition and the result becomes the utmost. I believe this is more important and effective than just gather persons with outstanding talent.

    S. Furutani

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