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Teamwork often can get you where you want to go

  • Article by: HARVEY MACKAY
  • February 26, 2012 - 3:46 PM

For anyone to truly achieve business success, it's essential to know how to communicate, cooperate and celebrate. It takes teamwork, collaboration and the minds of many to nurture an idea from concept to creation.

Start with the premise that two heads are better than one and three are better than two. It doesn't matter how smart you are -- or think you are. Ideas and input from outside sources can help you improve and refine your thinking. Let me share a remarkable example.

Rick Beyer, author of "The Greatest Stories Never Told," tells how a multibillion-dollar corporation started from very humble beginnings. During a terrible economy, with plummeting markets and hundreds of bank closures, a Midwestern businessman planted an idea that continues 175 years later.

That's right -- this all began in 1837 when Alexander Norris observed that his two sons-in-law needed the same raw materials for their businesses. One was a maker of candles, the other made soap, and they both relied on animal fat. In the bad economy, Norris encouraged them to join forces, and they reluctantly agreed.

The little Cincinnati-based business joined the skills of William Procter and James Gamble. Their cooperative venture grew to include more than 250 products, from Pepto-Bismol to Pampers, from toothpaste to toilet paper.

Michael Eisner, who as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. for more than 20 years oversaw many collaborations, says that "a successful partnership allows you to recognize your own weaknesses, and draw on a partner's strengths, without being uncomfortable about that vulnerability."

He quotes Warren Buffett: "That comfort comes from a complete lack of envy in a partnership." Eisner continues, "Partners must value trust, must discover how to keep their egos in check, and they must put a premium on not just brains, but human decency. Partners also have to be comfortable with the way that someone else views the world."

I have often touted the importance of my own "kitchen cabinet" -- an informal group of advisers whom I trust to test ideas and give unfiltered feedback. They have encouraged me to proceed on some projects, and thrown up roadblocks before I crashed and burned on others.

Collaborations and partnerships don't have to be permanent. I've written about the importance of the consultants and coaches I hire for both business and personal advice. I don't go into business with them, but I rely on them to help me stay in business. They bring varied perspectives to my questions and often raise new questions for me to consider. Most importantly, they occasionally remind me that I am not always the smartest guy in the room.

Anyone who is contemplating a partnership arrangement must understand that it involves much more than compatible personalities. Obviously, legal and financial issues must be addressed and clearly resolved.

You may have to jump through some hoops. Don't let that drain the energy out of your big dreams. Anyone can think, dream and imagine. Translating those thoughts to positive action often takes plenty of teamwork and collaboration.

Mackay's Moral: One plus one can add up to great things.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail harvey@mackay.com. Distributed by United Feature Syndicate.

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