The Key is Cooperation

Have you ever arm wrestled? 

When working with teams, I love doing an arm wrestling exercise. I task each pair with trying to get the most amount of points in 20 seconds, with one “win” equalling one point. Every person begins struggling trying to get their arm to work so their opponent doesn’t get any points. 

At the end of the 20 seconds, I’ll ask how many people got points. Usually, most people don’t win any points. When someone does win one or two points, their opponent is usually frustrated or disagrees with the points. Occasionally, I will have groups that win 5, 10, or 15 points. When I tell teams that the most points anyone has gotten during this challenge is 100 points, people are shocked and wonder how someone could get that many points. I’ll stop the teams and ask them what the objective was–to get the most points possible.

In order to optimize the number of points you can get, you have to cooperate

When people shift, change the rules and start to cooperate, they are able to get all kinds of points that they couldn’t get before. I love watching teams to see if they will change the rules and try to cooperate, but most times they do not get it and keep struggling. This is because when the teams walked in the room, they knew what the rules were for arm wrestling and cooperation was not a part of the rules. 

In your own business, what are the rules you are operating by that may not serve you in achieving your objective? It’s okay to change the rules! Sometimes our rules prevent us from seeing what’s possible. Changing your approach may change your results!

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