Team Building - Developing Performing Teams



Team Conflicts, Argyris, Team Learning, Peter Senge, skill, Team Building, Teamwork, collective work-products, leadership, Michael Dell, John Medica

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Understanding Teams & Teamwork

What is a team? A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, a set of performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.3 To become a powerful unit, all the team members should have a common commitment. Without a common commitment, all the team members will perform as individuals. Developing common commitment requires a common purpose in which the team fervently believes. The way they shape their purpose is contingent upon the demands and opportunities placed by the top management. The top management determines the character, rationale, and performance challenges for teams. The management should give enough flexibility to the teams to develop commitment based on the given purpose, specific goals, timing, and approach.

Successful teams invest significant time and effort to determine collective and individual purpose. Unsuccessful teams fail to create a collective and challenging aspiration due to various reasons such as lack of emphasis on performance, lack of effort, and poor leadership. Successful teams convert their common purpose into specific performance goals.

Without these specific performance goals, members of the team lack clarity on their contribution and perform in a mediocre manner. When purposes and goals of the teams are consistent, and are backed by team commitment, they lead to improved performance. Teamwork plays an important role in the success of any organization. Teamwork characterizes values that encourage listening and responding constructively to others' views, providing support, and recognizing the interests and achievements of others.4 These values ensure team performance, individual performance, and organizational performance.

Exhibit 1.1
Cross Functional Teams at Kodak

Kodak has always recognized the importance of teams and effective teamwork in its organization. It believes that teams help an organization gain customer focus, improve work efficiency, achieve successful restructuring and reengineering of work processes, and foster a spirit of cooperation and collaboration within the organization.

Forming cross-functional teams was just another effort on the part of Kodak's management to improve the overall efficiency of the organization. In Kodak's cross-functional teams, people from departments across the organization pooled their ideas to improve the various work processes and operational flows in the organizational structure. By forming such teams, Kodak brought together the skills and ideas of employees working in different departments of the organization. This enhanced the ability of the organization to solve problems and led to better decision-making.

The cross functional teams established at Kodak were successful:

• In building a shared vision, and developing shared values and principles
• In creating a focus on customers
• In restructuring and re-engineering work practices
• In identifying the best ways of operating
• In reducing operational costs
• In assessing business risks and opportunities
• In dealing with issues in accounting and administration and
• In solving problems i

Adapted from "Kodak's Picture is Changing," Management Decision, 34, 5 (1996): 2-3 .

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3] Katzenbach, Jon R., Smith, Douglas K, The discipline of teams, Harvard business review, Mar/Apr93.
4] Katzenbach, Jon R., Smith, Douglas K, The discipline of teams, Harvard business review, Mar/Apr93.