Function or performance which needs to come first?

Communication CoursesSome things we assume or take for granted turn out to be incredibly complex.  Take the example of a formula one race.  We take it for granted that for 2 hours on a Sunday twenty plus cars will show up and compete for the podium.  Yet when we stop and think about it the amount of things that have got to coincide just to turn up, let alone win consistently, is enormous.

Without the engine, a modern F1 car has over 30,000 components, you can easily push that towards 50,000 once the power plant is added.  The car alone is incredibly complex, a marriage of engineering, electronics, software, aerodynamics and much more.

Add to that the significant team that makes it all happen.  We might be mistaken to think this adds up to a few tens of people, the reality (in 2021) is that the big teams will employee over 800 people to deliver and make this all happen!

That’s 800 people that have to come together effectively week after week to build a team that is not only consistent, but is always pushing the limits of possibility.  And then we have the drivers, top athletes that are constantly chased by adoring fans and hungry media presenters, all wanting their slice of the action.

What then does it take to make all of this happen?  What is it that delivers on this challenge week after week after week?  The answer is high functioning teams.

In F1 and in many other walks of life, we find that the highest performing teams have this one thing in common.  They are first high functioning.

Chasing performance alone will never cut it, because (until everything is totally done by robots) we have to factor in humanity.  Those organisations that focus on performance alone, can win, they can achieve the top of their game, but the by-product of that situation is stress, pain, long hours, grief, hard work and often times burn out or exhaustion.  However, those teams that put high function at the heart of what they do, those that recognise the importance of interdependence between every single team member, there by-product becomes performance.

That performance also comes without much of the pain and grief encountered by focusing on performance alone.

Our high functioning teams model, developed by Will Karlsen and I, starts to unlock the dormant potential in teams by ensuring that function comes first.  Here are some simple assessment questions to ascertain whether your team is progressing towards high function.  A yes answer is always correct, but a ‘no’ gives you insight into what you may need to work on.

High Functioning Team Barometer:

  1. The are no activities or areas of independence in the team.
  2. Collaboration and transaction is held up as equal importance.
  3. Peers request feedback from one another on a daily basis.
  4. Peers disclose feelings and emotions to one another on a daily basis.
  5. Everyone can articulate the collective vision and purpose with brevity and clarity.
  6. Behavioural development is seen as equal to the development of domain expertise.
  7. There is unquestionable support for each individual, from each individual.
  8. There is unquestionable trust between all team members.


Bob Bannister

Ships Captain