Extraordinary Team Blog

Teamwork: Cucumbers or Tomatoes?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on June 6, 2011

This weekend, our church organized a “Lobster Supper” fundraiser replete with lobster, dinner roles, cole slaw, potato salad, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, condiments and cake for dessert. All packaged in a lovely to-go container.

Needless to say, it takes a ton of teamwork to pull this off. Connie, our fearless leader, had a checklist of everything that was needed, and we all volunteered, based on our ability to contribute. 19 people brought a cake, others brought the rolls…and Joe and I bought the containers!

The night before the fundraiser, many of us gathered to set up for the big day. I jumped in to slice the cucumbers. Connie asked me to put them on a large tray. So, I started slicing and laid the cucumbers out. But then I needed more trays, and so I bunched the slices together even tighter. And tighter. And tighter until it didn’t even look like I had sliced the cucumbers – and I was able to put them ALL on one tray! Very efficient, I thought.

Well, the ladies who were slicing the tomatoes decided to do things a little different. They laid the sliced tomatoes out over FIVE trays. In my perspective, it was not as efficient.

So….do you say something or not? Can the refrigerator handle five more trays? If I offer an opinion, will they listen to me? How will this affect my relationship with these ladies? These are key questions team members have when they see a different way of doing things…..

So….do you say something or not? The linchpin is all about the results. The cucumbers and tomatoes need to be sliced and ready to go for the lobster supper. Just because I like it compact and efficient, doesn’t mean it is any better than laid out and accessible. It’s just DIFFERENT. It doesn’t have to be MY way.

Especially when there is more than one way to achieve a specific result, teamwork is a great strategy. We all just need to realize that we each bring different talents and perspectives with us – which makes the end product richer and more meaningful.

So…I didn’t say anything about the tomatoes and the lobster supper was a HUGE success!

P.S. I should have taken a few pictures to show the different trays, but I didn’t think about it at the moment. 🙁 Next time, I will!