The Third Truth About Teams


The definition of real teams from The Wisdom of Teams by John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith is accurate. They define teams as a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Real teams are a basic unit of performance. Mischief comes from team members who are equally responsible for the result. This is quite different than how most of the work world is organized.

In the typical work place, each employee is accountable for their job and they are often formally measured on their performance in the yearly appraisal process. No group or team performance is formally measured or expected. The pretense is that if each employee just does his or her thing it will work out perfectly. Unfortunately the work world is more complicated and in many cases customers are impacted by a group of employees. When a group takes on being mutually accountable for their customers’ experiences, the group can generate profit and customer loyalty.

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