Good Team Members Do Whatever Is Needed

One of the finest examples of teamwork I know of was displayed on my very first development project (see also Section 3.12). The contract was for a large digital communications system that was planned for U.S. Army field use by the Signal Corps. The eight engineers on the team were mostly raw recruits, but the two technicians were old hands. Once, when we burned out the last precision resistor, they saved the day. The Signal Corps was coming for a review in one week, and the early demonstration model wouldn't work without these parts. When Purchasing said they couldn't get new resistors in time, the technicians found some in only half an hour. We never asked where they came from, but we learned to trust their "midnight requisition" system.

This team did whatever was needed without question or direction. Just after we finished the first system and put it under test in the basement laboratory, a hurricane struck, and floods were predicted for the weekend. Even though no one was called, everyone showed up on Saturday morning. By late afternoon, water was actually squirting up through cracks in the cement floor, and all power had to be shut off. Everyone splashed around in that cold, dark basement, moving heavy equipment onto improvised stands; but none of it was damaged.

At the end of the project, volunteers were needed to help with the environmental tests. The equipment had to operate from minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit to plus 132 degrees Fahrenheit. while the humidity was maintained at a constant 90 percent. This wasn't too bad during the heat-up cycle, but on the way down, it actually snowed in the chamber! Since someone had to be in there with the equipment all the time, this promised to be a tough assignment. Everyone wanted to go, however, but the medical department allowed only four of the team into the chamber. The equipment came through the tests with flying colors and so did the people.

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