For millennia, flora, fauna, and human-kind have had the need to do things in groups to achieve objectives in order to survive and develop. So it is no surprise that a word such as ‘team’ developed in many languages and has become a commonly used term across many disciplines; from sport, to academia, in the work place and even in family life. It is always used when we are grouped together with the intention to try and achieve something.
Interestingly, the word team derives from our human ability to control beasts direction in order to achieve a mutual beneficial objective such as travel, farming, or war etc. In the 1500’s, bridling of beasts together would allow the driver to fully control the direction that the beasts would move as a group, and by the 1800’s this collective action took on the meaning as ‘driving a team’ or ‘to come together as a team’.
Over time this became synonymous with horses rather than all beasts, and to this day a group of horses are still called a team. Just like a flock of geese are called so, due to their desire to congregate in a flock, even a group of wild horses tend to team together when unbridled.
By 1886, the term began to become less bridled when ‘team player’ began to be used to describe baseball players who chose to work with their team mates to win together rather than try to just be the hero of the game and make the paper.
Reflecting on our history, we find that our active language has naturally concluded that we needed a word to describe a group of people who work together in order to achieve a mutually accepted outcome.
As an unbridled species, it is important to note that those in a team are unified in fulfilling a goal despite coming from varying backgrounds and having differing opinions and skillsets. Let us put this aside for the moment, and for now, for the remainder of this book, let our definition of a team to be ‘a collection of people who cooperate together, in order to achieve a common goal.’
“A collection of people who cooperate together in order to achieve a common goal.”
This definition has an active proponent to it. To achieve something, means that something must be done. Unlike a group, which can have a passive feel to it. No one calls friends to team up for coffee, and even if they did, all casual observers would say “what a large group of people all drinking coffee together”. Though drinking coffee together may be a goal in itself, it isn’t very active or productive.
A group of persons does not automatically become a team. The group might exist without a unified purpose, aims, or goals, and with disparate attitudes and ways of thinking which they may refuse to deviate from.
This all may look like unnecessary semantics, and to an extent, it is. Defining differences between these words in this case, is only used to show how important it is to understand the definition of term ‘team’ that should be understood by the reader as it will be used for the contents of this book.
The famous French philosopher Voltaire often said “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” And abiding with this sensible rule, a glossary of important terms that may be ambiguous are provided in the back of this book.
Importance of Teams
Media and story telling has always surrounded our lives, and in many ways influence the way we perceive things or interpret them. For instance, innovators like Elon Musk are frequently in the news and usually portrayed in a positive sense, just as people like Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison were during their times, can result in a perception of a hero-type persona.
This type of media interpretation can make it difficult for us to remember that to achieve what they did required thousands of other individuals working in teams to bring these hero’s visions to life.
Unfortunately in modern media, such as Hollywood, the hero story seems to be the main theme across most storylines which then can influence the way we perceive things. Conversely, in most storylines where there is a team, it is usually told in terms of contention, power struggles, or internal fighting within the team. According to linquist Deborah Tannen, in her book ‘Argument Culture’, this is purposely done due to this type of media having higher ratings which translates into higher earnings.
In real life however, continual conflict in a team would actually be more stressful for those involved, leading to being less productive. This is why it is important to remember that to achieve an organization’s overall ambitions, objectives, and goals, teams are crucial, and that all hero’s have strong teams working together to make their vision a reality.
“Visionaries and organizations need strong capable teams to bring their visions to fruition.”
Strengthening Organizational Cohesion
Developing a healthy culture in teams encourages intimate relationships, inspires motivation, and increases loyalty. Employees put in more effort and show greater consideration for one another.
Each team member has a unique set of skills, abilities, and weaknesses. Developing a culture of the importance of teams will make it easier to accomplish the overall goals and objectives.
When healthy teamwork is not encouraged, people tend to focus on competing with one another for personal success which only increases the number of obstacles when trying to work towards accomplishing corporate goals.
When positive teams are encouraged and achieved, the entire group is inspired to collaborate well together toward a common objective. And thus, helping to strengthen the overall organizations ability to achieve its objectives.
“Positive collaboration inspires everyone to work toward a common goal. Helping the organization realize its goals.”
Viewpoints and Feedback
It is well established that one of the greatest traits of the human-kind is our ability to be creative.
In his book ‘Free Culture’, Lawrence Lessig, a former Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, argued that it was impossible for someone to be creative without at some point having some sort of outside inspiration. This lead him to successfully develop the Creative Commons initiative for people to be allowed create things for public use without fear of existing copyright regulations.
Malcom Gladwell also discovered this, explaining in his book ‘Blink’, that people tended to better problem solve if something appeared momentarily in their peripheral that may trigger the answer. All test subjects then believed they had come up with the answer by themselves despite having been intentionally triggered.
This shows that we all benefit from the viewpoints, creativity, problem-solving techniques, and diversity of thinking of others. And if this is allowed to be structured in an organization, when properly set up, it will encourage groups of people to brainstorm together, which in turn improves their ability to solve issues and come up with ideas.
This results in a faster appreciation of different viewpoints and feedback, which allows for new likelihoods of learning by all, which then inspires greater effectiveness and productivity.
The better this can be achieved in a team, the faster decisions can be agreed upon together which boosts output, which in turn creates faster feedback loops to better improve again on any current targets.
Ultimately this creates a competitive edge against others who are unsuccessful in implementing this into their teams.
“Appreciation of different viewpoints and feedback, allows for new likelihoods of learning by all, which then inspires better effectiveness and productivity. Then leading to faster product feedback loops.”
Greater Effectiveness and Productivity
When a team uses collaborative techniques and strategies, it enables workload sharing, which eases individual pressure. If cooperation tactics are implemented, there may be advantages in task completion, time management, goal achievement, and increased job satisfaction.
Both working collaboratively and in cooperation ultimately results in greater effectiveness and productivity. A definition of these terms can be found in the glossary.
Possibilities for Learning
Working in teams enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes, gain understanding from other viewpoints, and comprehend ideas from colleagues’ experiences.
Additionally, it gives people the chance to broaden their skill sets and learn new perspectives from their colleagues, which leads to the development of more efficient methods of performing or achieving. This learning experience develops the future ability to articulate ideas, foster creativity, and solve problems creatively.
Working in teams fosters cooperation, encouragement, shared goals, and mutual support. This creates team synergy, which promotes a sense of accomplishment, fosters a sense of shared accountability for results, and inspires people to work.
Team members will be motivated to share the same vision, beliefs, and goals when they are aware of their own duties and responsibilities as well as how much the rest of their team depends on their production. As a result, an atmosphere of cooperation, respect, trust, and camaraderie is fostered at work.
It is easy to hinder the success of creating, formulating, and putting new and inventive ideas into action if you lack the capacity to work effectively in a team environment. Reduced problem-solving skills, as well as a decreased capacity for achieving goals and objectives, all of which impair one’s ability to create a profitable business.
Consider the best team you have ever been a part of.
What were the essential components that made it effective?
Consider the worst team you have ever been a part of.
What were the main factors that contributed to its failure?
Consider a team that you would like to be a part of.
What would be the top items on a team’s wish list, according to you?
Why is collaboration and cooperation different? And what is the benefit of each?