Sunday, October 08, 2006

Corollary to Paradox of Play

So here's a thought - what if those team members who are not quite as productive as everyone else - the ones that are not so bad as to make their manager concerned, just have low enough productivity to be mildly annoying to the rest of the team - what if these people actually have some value that goes beyond what is measurable by normal individual stats? A sort of corollary to the the Paradox of Play as applied to teams, if you will.

I can think back on several teams to individuals that fit this general description. Invariably, these were the same team members that organized potluck lunches and other social events for the team. Sometimes the other members recognized some value to this social contribution and sometimes it was the source of some derision or overlooked altogether. But even when their efforts weren't fully appreciated, it sure seems to me that these people had a positive impact on the team as a whole.

True, if I have to choose between these folks and those who are more consistently productive, as a manager, I'd probably go with productivity. But I sometimes wonder if maybe there's some kind of synergy between the more socially adept and the productivity-focused that make the whole team more effective than it would be without them. They might not be putting up the same numbers as the other team members, but maybe they're helping to boost everyone else's stats simply by their presence alone. I guess that would make them some sort of a catalyst if it were true. Not that I can prove this theory at the moment but it'd probably be worth investigating, don't you think?

I'm sure that at the very least it's more enjoyable to be on a team that has some fun while they work and that's got to be worth something too, right?

If you have thoughts about the social butterflies one way or the other, send them to me at - I'm definitely interested to get some more data on this one.

How do you balance fun and productivity?

Kimm Viebrock is an ICF-credentialed Associate Certified Coach who helps technology professionals and service-oriented technology groups develop and use their skills more effectively and increase their value within the larger organization, allowing them to do more, do it better and have more fun doing it. Kimm is devoted to finding the connectedness in life.