An Item Not to Forget About Concerning Teamwork
Many of you will enjoy the new insights and data about teamwork that I will present on Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas from The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton (Free Press, 2010). If you miss the synopsis or live outside of our area, you can find it soon on our companion site, 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
As always, I am impressed by the research methodology employed in books like this. The findings and recommendations from this book come from a 350,000 person survey conducted by the Best Companies Group (BCG), which has been instrumental in establishing “Best Places to Work” programs.
One item that is missing from this book, as is true of most that I have read on teamwork, is the fundamental question of how teams “work” when they “work as teams.” I am asked all the time what a group needs to do in order to work as a team. And my answer is they must do their work as a team!
What I mean is that the work that everyone does must be interdependent, not independent. You cannot have teams if the work that participants do is not designed so that they work together. Therefore, teamwork depends upon the fact that at minimum, there is an extra set of eyes, or an extra set of input to everything the participants do and contribute.
Throwing independent contributions together into a package is not teamwork. Assembling interdependent contributions together into a package is teamwork. This is because the result comes from the blended aggregation of each person’s input. And, when you have teamwork, you have great difficulty identifying “who did what,” because the product belongs to the team, not any individual. That is why MVP (most valuable player) of a team has never made any sense to me – you can have one for a league, but you should not have one for a team!
So, if you want teamwork, you must design the work where you accomplish it in teams. The work must be interdependent, not independent. If you fail to do this, you will only have a group, and not a team
How do you see this issue? Let’s talk about it soon!
I agree that everyone on a team does not have to contribute or have input to every task, and in larger teams working on many complex tasks, that is impossible. But for teamwork to operate, there should not be ANY task where at least one other member does not have some influence or review toward the work produced by another member. That is the essence of interdependence. If that is not the case, you cannot properly use the terms “our, we, us” because the task was completed by “I, me, him, or her.” The more that you can identify the contributions of an individual, the less interdependent the work is, and the less evidence there is of teamwork.