Jamaica Gleaner

Math­e­mat­i­cal for­mula for great team­work

- Trevor E. S. Smith Suc­cess with Peo­ple Academy/IN­FOS­ERV/ Ex­tended DISC/FinxS info@sw­pacademy.com.

AT SCHOOL, I learned the life-sav­ing BOMDAS for­mula with­out which solv­ing al­ge­bra prob­lems would be im­pos­si­ble.

Here is an ex­am­ple:

Solve: 7 +(6 +3) x 5 - 4 / 2

Step 1: Work out what is in the bracket first: 7+ 9 x 5 - 4 / 2

Step 2: Then do the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and di­vi­sion: 7 +45 - 2

Step 3: Then do the ad­di­tion: 52 - 2

Step 4: And fi­nally the sub­trac­tion:

50 An­swer = 50

I want to ex­plore with you its ap­pli­ca­tion in the realm of team­work and healthy re­la­tion­ships. Ap­ply­ing the BOMDAS rules cre­atively could help ad­dress some of the chal­lenges that pro­duce a lack of co­op­er­a­tion in groups at a time when ef­fec­tive team­work is crit­i­cal for suc­cess.


The brack­ets rep­re­sent both in­clu­sion and ex­clu­sion. They in­di­cate that the things within the brack­ets have some­thing in com­mon that set them apart from things out­side. It also dic­tates that the things within the brack­ets should be given sim­i­lar treat­ment.

Let’s now take the leap from the ab­stract to the re­al­life chal­lenge of work­ing co­he­sively with oth­ers.

The first con­cept is ‘Be­long­ing’.

One com­mon prob­lem in dys­func­tional teams is the fail­ure of mem­bers to iden­tify with the team. They don’t see them­selves as be­ing part of the whole that is bonded by com­mon ob­jec­tives and shared goals.

The brack­ets say – there is a bond that ties us to­gether. The on­the-ground re­al­ity is that many speak of their teams in terms of ‘they’ in­stead of ‘we’.

Other tell­tale signs that the brack­ets are mean­ing­less in­clude the fact that team suc­cesses are not cel­e­brated as per­sonal suc­cesses. It is like a dis­grun­tled de­fender com­ing home to re­port that he won the match. From the bench he does not see him­self as be­long­ing in the team.

Do a bit of in­ves­tiga­tive work over the next few days and lis­ten care­fully to the di­a­logue of col­leagues – your team and other groups. See how of­ten you can de­tect pride in the ac­com­plish­ments of the group to which the in­di­vid­ual be­longs.

In co­he­sive and func­tional teams, the pride comes from just be­ing a part of the team. Mem­bers cham­pion the cause of the team as a whole and each mem­ber in­di­vid­u­ally. Team mem­ber Jenny’s grad­u­a­tion is ours. In a real sense, it might be be­cause we helped so much with her re­search projects and proof­read­ing her sub­mis­sions!

That is the spirit that fu­els high­per­form­ing teams and tightly con­nected groups.

Mean­while, back in dys­func­tional land, Desmond has been like a zom­bie since he was passed over for the role of team leader. He might not openly tear down what Martha puts for­ward, but his lack of in­ter­est can­not be missed. It is also no­tice­able that peo­ple who were close to Desmond and who felt that he should have re­ceived the pro­mo­tion are not en­gaged. The sep­a­ra­tion is not only men­tal, as they have now started to eat as a clique in a cor­ner of the lunch­room.

This team is on a down­ward spi­ral and the im­pact will soon be ev­i­dent in their key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors (KPIs).

Un­for­tu­nately, it is Martha’s re­spon­si­bil­ity as team leader to solve the prob­lem. She may not have ap­pointed her­self, but now it is her job to get the best from her team.

She needs to have a heart-to­heart talk with Desmond. She can share that she has ob­served that he is not the dy­namic, vi­brant per­son of three months ago and she would like to dis­cuss the change. She needs to steer clear of even a hint of ac­cu­sa­tion with re­spect to his lack of sup­port.

One strat­egy that might work well for Martha is for her to find some so­lu­tion – a role, maybe, that helps Desmond to save face and feel bet­ter about him­self. Could she iden­tify a dis­crete part of her re­spon­si­bil­ity and in­vite him to take charge of it with­out weak­en­ing her au­thor­ity?

That could pro­duce the ben­e­fit of get­ting Desmond en­gaged once more while giv­ing her the op­por­tu­nity to fo­cus on other ar­eas. Of course, if Desmond messes up, that would pro­vide grounds for another con­ver­sa­tion.

Join me this Satur­day, Au­gust 15 – noon till 6 p.m. for the St An­drew Church of Christ An­nual Fam­ily Work­shop at the Holy Child­hood High School. Great line-up of speak­ers. To­tally FREE. Re­fresh­ments will be served, cour­tesy of Wisynco. Theme: ‘Sex­u­al­ity, Le­gal­ity & Moral­ity – Restor­ing Fam­ily Val­ues’. I share on ‘Keys to Kick-start Your Mar­riage and Keep it Run­ning’. Choose right and ... more.

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