What Type Of Team Do You Need?

2012-12-01 10.27.02Friday is my ‘rest and relax’ day, a day when I work on my own, review what I’ve learned this week, collect my thoughts, plan for the future.

As I walked along the beach to Lytham I started to ponder teams. We can sometimes get carried away by the idea that the solution to all of our problems is team work, we draw ever more people onto our conference calls, send our emails to bigger circulation lists and try an enlist a diverse group of people on every project to increase innovation.  Stop a minute does this always make sense. Consider what type and size of team do you need, do you even need one at all.

Taking a lesson from sport, there are “track and field teams” and there are “basketball teams”.  Sometimes we should think more like track and field.  There is a great article on this over on Ezine which is worth checking out, but here are some of the examples that I recall when I needed to step back and ask myself what sort of team I wanted:

  • The complex investigation;  to solve this I needed to put two people together in a room, and provide them all the support they needed, but otherwise just keep everyone out of their way.  For this problem absolute focus was key
  • Get a fairly simple project delivered to time and budget;  get a team together who had done it before, who new each other well and manage them lightly.  For this problem innovation was not a priority, so it was better to have a small team, who new their stuff and worked easily together.  There was no productive friction to create innovation, but also no friction to slow them down
  • Get a complex project concept clear; to achieve this I needed one person to get their head around the concept, and describe it, to help them they needed plenty of opportunity for discussion and review,  but it existed coherently in a single persons brain and so it had integrity

The simple idea of common ground provides a good start point for thinking about the kind of ‘team’ you need.

The picture is of Granny’s Bay viewed from Lytham Prom.  One of my favourite local spots.  I walked along here today and will be reading on the beach (not visible in this pic) there soon.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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