Effective Team Collaboration: Are You Gilligan?

Posted by Kristin Dressel on Thu, Aug 08, 2013

effective_team_collaboration_001I just returned a couple of weeks ago from a wonderful beach vacation. One morning over coffee, my husband, myself and the other couple we were traveling with decided to see if we could sing theme songs from 1970s TV shows. It wasn't long before we were all singing the theme song to "Gilligan's Island" - all 4 opening verses (and to our surprise we learned there were another 4 verses for the close of the show).

For anyone too young to remember watching the show, it was about a group of disparate castaways on an island hideaway who had to find a way to work together to survive. Comedy and hijinks inevitably ensued. This got me thinking about teams. Gilligan and the other characters all had to collaborate and work together in order to accomplish anything and survive.

The show's characters were as follows:

The Skipper - supposedly the fearless leader.

Gilligan - first mate to the Skipper and the heart of the show, he was usually the one to make mistakes and create problems, but he was always ready to help out.

The Howells - a rich married couple who had too much baggage (for a 3 hour tour), they always had lots of ideas but expected someone else to do the work.

Ginger - the movie star, she always looked good and everybody loved her, but she never seemed to understand what was going on.

Maryanne - the often-overlooked cute farm girl who was always ready with a wide smile and a helping hand.

The Professor - the real brains of the bunch who was forever solving the problems created by others.

Even though each character was very different, they were able to effectively collaborate as a team to solve a problem. Every person on the show had their talents and was able to contribute to the situation at hand. Sure, TV shows usually resolve problems in 30 minutes, but it's a good reminder that we each have something to offer to the team. effective_team_collaboration_002

Also, we each have areas we need to improve. Are you Maryanne who has opinions to offer but no one listens? Are you the Howells who like to talk about what should be done, but expects someone else to carry it out? Or are you Gilligan? Are you well-meaning and trying to be helpful but it often ends in crisis?

Determine where you fit on your work team and what your strengths are. Now, decide how you can learn to adopt some the traits you might be missing. Whether or not your company engages in training and development, your future depends on YOU learning the skills necessary to succeed. So, catch an episode or two of "Gilligan's Island". You might be surprised what you learn about teamwork.

Topics: high functioning teams, high performing teams, team building and accountability

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