Individuals in Teams Create Value

Oct 11 / Jim Benson
Some schools of thought focus on teams. Some focus on individuals. Some focus on leadership. 

This has always seemed strange to me. We work together, we require leadership, and we are all individuals. We can’t focus on one element at the expense of others.

Individuals in teams create value.

We must respect all the elements -- individuals, teams, and value creation. 
Have the professionals gathered looked at the value they are being asked to create and figure out, as a team, how they will meet those demands? Have they given up their professional judgement by working in ways dictated by others? Do they have the ability to rapidly improve, to stop work and respond to an emergency, to suggest new courses of action? Are they able to know where they will learn new skills, push the state-of-the-art, and innovate?

Usually, the answer is “no”. Sometimes a qualified “maybe”. Rarely a “yes”.

Which means that almost always, our teams are held back. Our professionals are stunted. Our delivery is less impressive than it could be.
It means we put off fixing problems rather than solving them quickly. It means we make the same mistakes over and over again. It means we see inefficiencies and complain about them--not learn from them and fix them, just complain.

Individuals in teams require information to focus on value creation, manage their time and the product.

They need visual systems that give them situational awareness. They need to know what’s happening in real time to know where they can help, where people can help them, and where things are going well.
They need social systems agreed to by the professionals on the team that let people know what everyone expects, how work flows through their team, and what to do in case of emergency.

They need communication agreements where the professionals set what information flows through what mechanisms at what times, so everyone knows where their vital information will be.

They need leadership that is active in team dynamics, understands where they can use help, and helps set strategy and vision (usually collaboratively).

This is the power of collaborative management.