The issue of benevolent intent operates on two levels. Firstly there is the issue of the benevolent intent of the organisation, and then there is the issue of the benevolent intent of the team. This second issue is, in a sense, a subset of the first. Let’s review
our GSK operator (see ‘Team Success – Critical Criterion I’ for earlier discussion on this). If we want to be assured that his job is meaningful to him we need to tease the following logic out of him:
Q: “Why do you run the operation according to a standard operating procedure?”
A: “So that we produce the right amount of product to specification”
Q: “Why should the product be to specification?”
A: “Well, if the drugs do not comply to specification they don’t save the lives we wish to save”
What this means is that the operator has to see the line of sight between the task that they do and the overall benevolent intent of the enterprise. Only once this line of sight has been established do we have a meaningful task. The difference between a meaningful and a meaningless task is not how menial it is. The difference lies in whether it makes a contribution to others.
If the member of the team is to go the extra mile for the requirements of the team, then going the extra mile has to be meaningful. What makes it meaningful is that the intent of the task is worthy, is benevolent. So, effective teams are teams where the individual in the team not only understands the benevolent intent of the team, but s/he also sees how the executed task contributes to that intent.
A subset of this issue is the issue of measures. Measures are helpful because they enable the team member to quantify the degree to which they are going the extra mile. These measures are only helpful, however, when they actually measure what the team can influence. This suggests that measures should operate on two levels.
Firstly there are measures that are concerned with the overall effectiveness of the team, and then there are measures that reflect the key variables under the control of individuals in the team.