Monday, February 15, 2016


In my training workshops, I use the video ‘Cog’ to rationalize roles in teams. The ‘Cog’ is an advertisement made by Honda in 2003 to promote the Accord car. It opens with a transmission bearing rolling down a board triggering a domino chain of reactions between a gear wheel cog, camshaft and pulley wheel, automated water sensors, wiper blades and other parts of a disassembled Accord.

The interactions grow from simple collisions to ziplines made from cable, scales and see-saws constructed from carefully balanced parts. The sequence ends when the button of an electronic key fob is pressed, closing the hatchback of a fully assembled Honda Accord on a carefully balanced trailer. The car rolls off of the trailer, while the narrator asks ‘Isn't it nice when things just work?’

As the video concludes, I point three types of parts in a car: functional ones which make it move effectively; comfort ones which provide relief to the occupants and aesthetic parts which give the vehicle an attractive look. Similarly, teams have members who are the drivers of the team, the ones who provide for logistics as well as those who make the working environment a beautiful place to be in.

A cog is a tooth of a gear or cogwheel. It is also used to refer to the gear itself. A cog engages with another cog and motion in one results in motion of the other. Similarly, we see teams work like a cog if team members engage with each other and set in motion other members, by influence and inspiration.

Things work nicely if everyone plays their part in the cog! However it is important to recognise that though we may play greater or humbler roles, but it is collectively that we add value to our teamwork. After all, the value of the car is not dependent only on its functional forte or aesthetic looks or comfort quotient... it is together that all parts in the cog determine the worth of the vehicle.

Members determine the worth of a team
By playing their part in the cog scheme!
- Pravin K. Sabnis

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