What could collaboration and craps possibly have in common? There is a connection between the two and I realized it a couple weeks ago when I was in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada for a bit of fun. I went to see the musical show "Rock of Ages" and if you feel like a fun show with hair band music, then I highly recommend it. Before and after the show I played some Craps. It's a game I have fun with and enjoy very much. There's always so much energy at the tables.
As we stepped up to the craps table it was running a bit chilly. There would be an occasional "natural" on the come-out throw, but it seemed there were more craps happening. About this time two high rollers came up to the table bearing stacks of black and purple chips. They immediately started playing the "don't pass" line. In craps you either play with the house or against the house. Most people play the "pass" line to bet against the house. It was at this time the dice came around to me.
As I placed my bet on the pass line I mumbled something about not being happy these two at the other end of the table were betting against me and there always had to be somebody going to the dark side. Quite frankly, I was a bit dejected at having others bet against me. We were now a table divided. As I grabbed two dice for the come-out throw a dealer who heard my bemoaning leaned over to say "I hope you win and beat them.". For whatever reason, this picked up my spirits and I started throwing dice. And I kept on throwing those dice. I kept those dice for a good 20 minutes to turn a nice profit. Even the two at the other end of the table switched sides and started betting on me to win. The table was united on beating the house, even the dealers were pulling for us.
This is what Collaboration and craps have in common, people coming together to reach the same goal. Interestingly enough, we had different ways of getting there. We played with different chips, some played the pass and others played the don't pass, while others would do call bets or even long shots. Individually we each had a goal of making money, but it wasn't until we collectively went about meeting that goal in the same way by going against the house that things picked up and we saw success.
I'm not saying by having the same goal we were using "The Force" to hit our number, but in a way we were working together. If we look at the article ""Building a Collaborative Team Environment" we can draw many parallels:
- Have a common purpose and goal. While betting as individuals the table ran cool, but once we focused on beating the house, we saw results
- Trust each other. Playing the pass line is trusting the thrower will make their number and that's what we did.
- Clarify roles. Some people bet, I threw, the dealers worked the chips, and the stickman managed the dice. We were smooth and efficient as bets were made, paid, and the dice moved.
- Communicate openly and effectively. If you've ever seen a craps table in the casino it is all communication on what number to hit and how to hit it, for example hitting a 10 the hard way.
- Appreciate diversity. Everybody made their own bets, some were long shots, but nobody said anything disparaging about another's bet. Every bet one put us up against house.
- Balance the team's focus. It's a statistical fact that if you gamble long enough you will go broke. The house always wins because the house has the odds. When the profit was good, I walked away. The other players then had to consider where they were and if the risk was worth it to keep playing.
We can find other examples and details such as in the article "How to Collaborate" by the Collaborative Justice organization. I have to imagine there's a lot of opposition in this group, yet they still see results through a collaborative approach and relationships. It's also good to understand the mistaken beliefs related to collaboration such as listed in "Six Common Misperceptions about Teamwork".
I hope you can forgive the title of this blog. I thought it was a clever double entendre, but I think it's more of a dual reference. The first reference is to eleven in craps. It's called "yo" because eleven and seven sound to much alike in the crowded casino. The second reference is to Breaking Bad and the use of "yo" at the end of every sentence as seen in this montage. I only wish I was clever enough to have made a dual reference to "This Is Spinal Tap", but I didn't think "These go to yo." would resonate.