The end of teamwork as we know it?

8 10 2010

It is with great relief that I note the demise of teamwork as an unquestionable good.

I had better say that again: the secret is out, teamwork is not, in and of itself, a fundamental principle of the universe. Don’t get me wrong – I am personally wired in such a way that I really enjoy working as part of a team. And there are some tasks where teamworking is the best way of getting the best work done. But not always!

Books like Why Work Sucks and Speed Lead are challenging the enormous waste of time which is imposed by organisations assuming that every job requires a team to do it. The latter makes a useful distinction between a team and a workgroup, where members of the latter often complete a stage in a task and then pass it on to the next member of the workgroup. So yes, Person A and Person B need to have a conversation at the handover point; that isn’t the same as making them sit through a three hour meeting every week to listen to other people describing handovers in which they have no immediate interest.

If we could lose unnecessary teamwork, we might get some excitement back about the power of the team when it is genuinely the best way to get things done!

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