“Team” - the Most Important Element of Success

During years of my experience engaging in different organizations, I encountered lots of managerial issues including but not limited to: financial, sales, procurement, production, planning, and so on. Typically, at the first step, my team and I would normally run a root cause analysis procedure to define the problem. Despite having access to extensive reports on the problem and its solutions, two common questions are always asked by managers: “What’s wrong here?” and “What should we do?” and they are always after a quick answer.

At the early stages of my career, I resisted giving brief answers. But as I gained more experience, particularly in higher levels of organizations, I could sympathize more with their mindset. That led me to look for what you may call ‘the meta-problem. Through examination of different business problem-solving scenarios, I found the meta-problem and it was simply: the people.

I was reminded of the saying: “People are not the capital of an organization, people are the organization”. In almost every problem that we gave a solution to, either the problem root cause was a human fault, or, the people were needed to implement the solution even if the solution was robotic automation. From that time on, whenever I am asked: “What’s wrong here?” and “What should we do?” My answer for both questions is: People in Teams! Now the question is: what exactly in teams? 

Why Teams?

The role of people gets more important when organizations deal with more complexity and it’s no surprise that with the complex corporate environment of the recent era, the role of teams is ever more important. Adaptability and flexibility are getting more attention in the current volatile environment. Even detailed standardizing and automation of business processes cannot make organizations independent from their people.

There is no doubt that decision-making for the majority of organizations has multiple facets and levels of complexity that a single person cannot manage on his own. Thus, reaching better decisions requires different expertise, skills, experiences, and, knowledge from different people. This is where teams must get involved in decision-making. Now let’s delve into team definition and structure.

Team Structure:

First, let’s look at the definition of “Team” in the Cambridge dictionary: “A number of people or animals who do something together as a group”. With this definition, the number of people can be as few as just two people, and, I believe that the building blocks of teams are couples. 

In my experience, people usually find a partner whereby high-intensity collaboration becomes possible while also maintaining their connection to the wider team. The following figure can present the idea:

As it is shown in the figure, there are interconnected couples within a single team of 4 people. Each couple relationship conveys different characteristics, for example, “Lucy-John” couple may be based on documentation, inspiration, and administration; whereas, “Lucy-Alice” relationship may be based on venting and mutual helping. As it is seen in the example, there is no team leader, boss, or manager because, in this approach, traditional hierarchy is no longer relevant.

This idea is also compatible with team couples. Teams tend to interconnect in duality. The following figure represents a schematic example:

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