Friday, May 1, 2015

What's The Password?

On a recent road trip to Iowa City, the Harvest Racing team rented a rural farm cabin with what was essentially a petting zoo in the pasture out back. The animals — cows, pigs, goats and horses —  were bottle-fed from birth, and were quite comfortable around humans. So much so that you could pet the farm's bull.

Anyway, despite its rustic charm, our guest house had some modern amenities, including a strong wifi signal. However, without printed access instructions, we were locked out. So after hearing several teammates ask what the password was — like the goats bleating in the pen out back — I took up the initiative to contact our host, Carmen, to get it:

Apparently, our hosts were the Jacksons. Duh. So, I immediately tried “Jackson”, but that didn't work. I then tried the lower case variant, ”jackson” but it also failed. Then I tried the literal phrase, "Jackson of course!” Again, failure.

So I sent a follow up text:

Sorry with a smiley face was her answer? That's it?

I showed the response to Shim, who had arranged to get the place with Carmen. He said that she was out to dinner, and probably didn’t know what the password was remotely. So I gave her some space and let everyone enjoy the simply life of living on a farm.

It wasn't long before the goats started bleating again. "Hey Brady, what's the password?"

I told them that Carmen probably did not know it, she was offsite, and couldn’t help us. The truth was that I was buying time because I didn’t want to be “that guy” who was continually pestering our host while she was dining.

Thankfully, Shim stepped forth and contacted Carmen. He got the password.

With the goats fed, the farm was peacefully quiet once more.


This is a case study of dysfunctional team dynamics.

Here, there was a common goal to get the wifi password. At first, nobody was willing to step forth. Somebody finally takes up the initiative to go get it. Along the way, adversity prevents the goal from being attained. It stalls (fails), requiring somebody else to finish the job.

How many races play out exactly like the one above? Lots.

I'll call myself out on this disfunction. Rather than seek further clarification from Carmen, I sat on it. I then chose to lie about my intentions to the group, which did nothing to resolve the issue.

Being an effective communicator is one of the cornerstones of a functional team.

Communication is only one facet of team dynamics that can be analyzed from the wifi example. There are many more, including: individualism, refusing to share in the burden, and trusting the source are a few that come to mind.

Having a functional team is so easy to talk about, yet so hard to pull off when it matters. It takes practice to build trust in one another to get it right. Our team has been working on this during our group rides, and have designated Wednesday nights as our rolling laboratory. We realize the importance of being on the same page when it comes time to the race, where there is little tolerance for dysfunction. That's why we're using our group rides to smooth out the wrinkles.

One last thought: it turns out that the password was "jackson5". We were so close to having it originally, yet so far away. So close that we could have probably guessed it, but that would have taken time and several efforts.

There is no time for guesswork in racing.

Practice, practice, practice.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

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