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Less is More

Optimize Blog - May 8, 2012 - 0 comments

In a previous Zeitgeist blog we talked about Google’s patent for driverless cars which was granted back in December 2011. Well now driverless cars have taken a further step forward and will soon be a reality on the roads of Nevada after the state approved America’s first self-driven vehicle license.
The first to hit the highway will be Google’s modified Toyota Prius which continues to lead the way in driver-less car technology. Patent experts note that Google’s patent will not prevent others developing rival self-drive vehicles and indeed all the major manufacturers are investing large sums of money to develop their own versions of the vehicles requiring little human intervention.
The Prius’s first drive included a spin down the famous Las Vegas strip. According to software engineer Sebastian Thrun, the car has covered 140,000 miles so far with no accidents, other than a bump at traffic lights from a car behind.
Nevada changed its laws to allow self-driven cars in March. The long-term plan is to license members of the public to drive such cars. Google’s car has been issued with a red license plate to make it recognizable. The plate features an infinity sign next to the number 001.
This got us thinking about the need for managers and leaders within teams – the parallel between driverless cars and leaderless teams. There are a number of supporters for the concept of leaderless teams – the premise being that the contribution of the manager towards team success is debatable at times. Sometimes, it is even considered as counter-productive.
They suggest that a team usually works towards a common objective and common result and that when there is a leader, the organizational objective is seen as the leader’s objective. The task completion is the goal of the leader, whereas a team member’s role is usually only a part of the goal. That is why team members often get disenchanted and disassociated from the objective.
Leader-less teams area concept that organizations such as Toyota have had great success with. The majority of organizations however stick with hierarchical structures. Here at Zeitgeist we have no issue with leaderless teams where they have been able to work but we often see clients considering such situations as an antidote to a lack of strong team leadership. Investing in leadership development and ensuring that the development is applied as intended still brings greater reward in our experience.
A strong leader works hard to ensure that the whole delivers more than the sum of its parts through effective communication, good planning, a clear vision, clear accountabilities and empowering practices.
For us at least the role of the leader remains critical to organizational success. For transportation on the other hand it appears we are entering a new paradigm. For the back seat driver this new world delivers a whole new challenge…….

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