“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 14

The human body is made up of several systems which epitomize its foundation, protection, life, growth and sustainability. This constitutes the whole.

In each system there are many parts. When all the parts fulfill their purposes and the systems function together then human beings perform as best as can be. When the body is coupled with the mind and the spirit then there is the opportunity to generate positive vibrations of love. The collective impact of human beings working together may then generate a positive team spirit.

This is the theory, the challenge is to make it work.

A business is made up of several systems which epitomize trust, credit rating, sales, productivity and profits. This constitutes the whole.

In each system there are many parts. When all the parts fulfill their purposes and the systems function together then businesses perform as best as can be.

When the business embraces teams of productive human beings then there is the opportunity to generate pockets of sustained success. The collective impact of businesses working together then generate national economic growth. The collective impact of successful nations generates holistic wealth for the benefit of all mankind.

This is the theory, the challenge is to make it work.

My reference to business here includes both the private sector and Government. I believe that if Governments were run like businesses, as in the case of Malaysia Incorporated, then the number of successful governments would be greater.

The Malaysia Incorporated concept was first announced by the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed in 1983 and represented a new way of approaching the task of national development. Both the public and private sectors adopted the idea that the nation is a corporate or business entity, jointly owned by both sectors and working together in pursuit of a common mission of the nation.

After the failure of the short lived West Indies Federation in 1962, Caribbean nations went through a phase of Independence from the colonial power. Fifty plus years have passed and we are still struggling as nations to get it right. Incidentally, Singapore which achieved Independence from Britain about the same time, in 1965, based on standard socio-economic indicators, has excelled.

People are the key to success whether we are addressing the success of private sector businesses, governments, service clubs, sporting organizations, the family unit or political parties. At the core of the solution to the challenge is team spirit and productivity.

Gurdeep Kaur is a Principal with the Project Management Center of Excellence at Infosys Technologies Ltd., a world leader in IT services. The following extract from an article by her on “Managing Team Conflict” is instructive:

“When teams come together, conflict is almost inevitable. Not all conflict is unhealthy though. Conflict has the potential of bringing out the best from individuals and teams and building rapport when it is directed towards the goal at hand. Only when it starts damaging the team spirit and jeopardizing the common goals that it becomes a cause for concern. Therefore conflict needs to be properly identified, analyzed and managed.

“To do so, one has to acknowledge the presence of conflict, and then look for root causes. Conflict can be due to misaligned goals or personality clashes. It is imperative to understand the nature of conflict to adopt a suitable approach towards managing it.”

I recall that five years ago I was invited as an external intervener at the board and management levels in a business in the Caribbean. There was serious disagreement or argument among the collective board and management teams which was destroying the organization. My brief was “conflict management”.

My approach was one of institutional strengthening where one determined individual concerns in an open forum, assessed the negative impact of these concerns on the organization and then suggested positive remedies to resolve the conflict. This laid the foundation for team building and fellowship in contrast to the fracas which existed.

In order to resolve conflict one first has to obtain some common ground of agreement, however small, to which buy-in is endorsed by the team within the framework of a positive value system. In this case, this common ground was drawn from the 10 tenets of the Smart Partnership Philosophy which embodies: a shared vision, cultural diversity, a code of ethics, longevity, networking, transparency, equity, fair play, trust and values while promoting the concepts of “prosper thy neighbour” and “win-win”.

We redefined the vision and mission and core values and set objectives for each business system (corporate governance, finance, marketing, people development and operations).

We then obtained a synthesis of expectations by the team on the outcome of my intervention. As we engaged in discussion, this was followed by a summary of stakeholder (shareholders, board and management, the general public and the international community) commitments regarding conflict management by the board and management and step-by-step, systematic action plans.

The result is that the group was now on its way to being transformed into a team in the interest of the sustainability of the organization.

Let us as individuals embody the spiritual energy of enthusiasm that inspires us to move forward with our dreams and goals. Let us remember that it is the collective impact of each of us that will make the difference and let us always embrace team spirit and exhibit high levels of productivity thus limiting the negative aspects of conflict, nipping conflict in the bud and resolving it expeditiously when it rears its ugly head.

Best wishes to Barbados which has just embarked on its 50th year of Independence. May all internal conflicts be gradually resolved and may positive external partnerships be spawned in the national interest.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)