Friday, April 27, 2012

Teaming is a Verb!

My friend and frequent co-author Amy Edmondson has a terrific new book out titled, "Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy."  I strongly recommend the book.   Amy is one of the world's leading scholars in the area of team learning.  Here's a short excerpt from a HBS Working Knowledge feature on the book; it captures the essence  of her argument:

In these prior treatments, team is a noun. A team is an established, fixed group of people cooperating in pursuit of a common goal. But what if a team disbands almost as quickly as it was assembled? For example, what if you work in an emergency services facility where the staffing changes every shift, and the team changes completely for every case or client? What if you're a member of a temporary project team formed to solve a unique production problem? Or you're part of a group of managers with a mix of individual and shared responsibilities? How do you create synergy when you lack the advantages offered by the frequent drilling and practice sessions of static performance teams like those in sports and music?

Teaming is a verb. It is a dynamic activity, not a bounded, static entity. It is largely determined by the mindset and practices of teamwork, not by the design and structures of effective teams. Teaming is teamwork on the fly. It involves coordinating and collaborating without the benefit of stable team structures, because many operations like hospitals, power plants, and military installations require a level of staffing flexibility that makes stable team composition rare. In a growing number of organizations, the constantly shifting nature of work means that many teams disband almost as soon as they've formed. You could be working on one team right now, but in a few days, or even a few minutes, you may be on another team.

I find her argument about teaming very compelling.  Consider your own organizational context.  How many temporary, fluid team structures exist in your workplace?  To what extent is teaming a verb, rather than a noun, in your firm?  If you want to learn how to lead in that type of dynamic environment, then I recommend taking a look at Amy's book.  

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