Reasons for new teams drive early tasks

In his recent post What is a Team?, pointed out that teams are created when two people within an organization interact to accomplish something.

The minute anybody within a business interacts with another worker about the business of the company, in essence there is a team created.

What creates a team, whether spontaneously or through planning is always someone gets a vision of something, an idea to improve something, whether big or small. That vision or idea demands that people get together and do something about it.

I found particularly interesting the list of impetus for the team to exist – in Bourgeault’s words “the something”, a vision or an idea. I would add to the list, an opportunity.

Reasons for teams

  • vision
  • idea
  • opportunity

The reason, or the impetus, for a team’s existence has a big impact on how the team will proceed, at least during the early phases of teamwork.

When someone already has a fairly developed vision, the team can often adopt as its objective fulfilling the vision. Once defined, the team can turn to developing a strategy, identifying necessary resources, and other planning.

When a team coalesces around an idea, however, the first team task may be to more fully develop the idea and consider alternatives. Once these activities have substantially progressed, the team can define its objective, which may or may not closely track the original idea.

When a team forms around an opportunity, the first task will often be to determine how to take advantage of the opportunity, or whether the organization should try to act on the opportunity. It is likely that many ideas will be generated and evaluated by the team before a vision is eventually formulated.

To get a team off to the best start, it is important for team leaders and managers to recognize whether the team has come together to fulfill a vision, develop and implement an idea, or take advantage of an opportunity. Once clarified, the first tasks for the new team will often follow this pattern:

  • Vision – Develop strategy to fulfill vision.
  • Idea – Develop idea; Consider alternatives.
  • Opportunity – Decide how/whether to take advantage.

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