‘Organizational Teams are not delivering

Over the last ten years organizational teams have become more distributed and very complex. Despite the number of technologies available to assist teams and groups, it is still exceedingly difficult to manage teams.

I use the term ‘organizational’ very loosely. By “organizational teams,” I mean teams working within organizations that could be solid, vertically integrated corporate entities, government departments, networked business clusters, ‘not for profit’ communities, informal “task forces,” social groupings and special interest groups.

Individual team members may belong to many of these teams on a part-time and ad hoc basis – they may see each other frequently, or never ever meet physically – conducting all communications electronically or via the web.

And contrary to popular belief, the introduction of all real-time conferencing and collaboration technologies can actually make things worse. It may distract team members from their real business objectives and drive them into ongoing loops of technology experimentations. In these situations, the focus on the work mission is often lost in favor of mastering and attempting to extract ever increasing benefits from the technology itself.

So why is it so difficult to successfully manage teams today? I believe there are two main reasons:

  • Teams are using the wrong model to organize themselves
  • Teams are not keeping pace with the rapid changes in their business environments’

So says Ken Thompson the author of ‘Bioteams‘. Ken’s book provides a convincing argument that to survive and thrive in to-days rapidly changing environment, teams need to mimic the structure of nature’s most successful designs. For example those found in beehives, anthills, and viruses. This book is a fascinating read for anyone curious about what its going to take to move teams and organizations into the hyper-linked, knowledge economy of the mid-21st century.