The Seven Dwarfs Teach Team Building:

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho it’s off to work we go…”

team building concept drawn on blackboard
Have you ever been lucky enough to work for a person who believes that the core function of your job should be something you love?

In strategic development, specifically organizational theory, making sure the right individual is in the right position doesn’t always seem to be a high priority. There are all sorts of reasons why people within an organization wind up with certain roles. Often, logic does not appear to be a determining factor in these hierarchal decisions.

Which leads us to what I like to call the Seven Dwarf model.

When putting together a team, chemistry is vital. Not having the right mix of personalities can be a recipe for disaster and dysfunction.

Building a team with the right chemistry and talent is an art form. Overlapping functions and roles can cause friction.

Define roles. Assign an understudy. Foster a mentality of “we’re in this together.”

Construct your team based on the Seven Dwarfs model. Potential team members exhibit one or two personality traits as demonstrated by profiling the Seven Dwarfs.

Doc- The team leader. The person that seems to have all the answers and acts as a sounding board for everyone else.

Happy- The backbone of any team. No matter what task you give Happy she is ecstatic to help. She executes with a smile. No task is too trivial.

Bashful- Usually very shy, quiet and reserved. By really paying attention to the Bashful on your team, you may uncover a complex person who has amazing ideas. Beware though, without proper prodding Bashful is unlikely to express himself.

Grumpy- The team realist. Often perceived as negative, Grumpy exudes pragmatism wrapped in a thin veneer of hostility. The macro thinker who can visualize how all the different pieces of a project interconnect. A Grumpy thinker is usually two steps ahead of everyone else in the room.

Sleepy- The person in meetings who always appears to be on the verge of falling out of his chair. Although he may appear to be in a stupor, Sleepy has rare flashes of insight that are dead on accurate. Outward displays of languor mask intense listening skills.

Sneezy- Any member of any team during allergy season. (Hence why anyone can be in two categories at once!). Sneezy is why we institute the policy of the “understudy.” Every team member has a backup that if the need arises can articulate their absent colleague’s projects’ status and progress to management on the spot.

Dopey- Every office has one, a harmless individual (unless in a decision-making, management role). The person whom you know must have a fairy godmother somewhere. Sweet, willing to help, but not a critical thinker.

To achieve a harmonious balance, teams should pull from all seven personality profiles. A team of 5 where each member fits the Grumpy profile may be brilliant. However, without diversity in the thought process, you run the risk of falling victim to groupthink.

There is one more personality type outside of the Seven Dwarf model.

The Evil Witch.

This team member is the person with whom no one else can stand to work. It is important to note that there is an underlying intent of malice in the Evil Witch profile. She (although men are not exempt from this personality) operates with the intent to make herself look important and better than everyone around her. This behavior is not conducive to a positive team building experience.

Three characteristics make up the Evil Witch personality type:

  1. The Glory Hog- no matter what anyone else contributes she takes all the credit.
  2. The Privileged Princess- When everyone else on the team is pitching in to meet a deadline she refuses with the excuse of “that’s not my job,” or “I’m too busy.”
  3. The Backstabber- steals others ideas and passes them off as her own.

If you have an Evil Witch on your team, start thinking about succession planning for that role now.

It is almost impossible to integrate the Evil Witch into the team model. She is too busy stomping on everyone else to contribute anything of value. Rehabilitation efforts fail as there is too much baggage for the rest of the team to overcome. Team members often resent, and will eventually start complaining about the Evil Witch in their midst.

So, what does a well-functioning fairy tale character approved team dynamic get you?

Engaged employees who relish coming to work and feel as if they are part of something important, maybe even momentous.

Almost a decade later, I am still eternally grateful to the boss who recognized that while I could plan any event she wanted, I truly despised event planning.

Allowing me to pass that function to someone who loved event planning let me focus on strategic and tactical planning. In strategic and tactical planning, I found my calling.

Recognizing that teams require calibration is a massive part of strategic development. A well-oiled machine is an asset to your business. A happy team is analogous to a well-oiled machine.

Interested in strategic development as part of your Business Intelligence strategy? Want to learn more? Visit us today at


Angela M. Insalaco is the Founder and Managing Director of Strategic Tactics Consulting Group, LLC (STCG). At STCG team efficiency is a core function of business intelligence strategy.

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