A look at teamwork today offers an optimistic outlook

The word "team" appears to have been borrowed in the first instance from sport and signified being on the same side and pulling together. But it seems the terms of reference of a team are shifting and demand further thought.

At one time a "team" was virtually synonymous with an Autonomous Work Group. However, synergy within the team, essential for an AWG, was often achieved at the expense of lack of synergy with other parts of the organization. Visions were restricted because members of the team always kept the same company, being pinned into their positions by restrictive job descriptions.

As these formal structures are increasingly falling into disrepute, new dynamic training concepts are beginning to take their place. First, it is being recognized as dysfunctional that membership of any given team should remain static. Second, perspectives within the team need to be widened. Facilitating career moves within the organization offers one means of achieving this aim while also offering the advantage of growing a "bigger person." Another way is to arrange periodic swaps of members between existing teams in order to deepen understanding of the big picture.  Corporate managers or those in public service are often expected to assess associates. Common experience suggests that in education as well, administrators are seldom positioned to do so effectively and are often faulted by critics for the way in which they carry out their job descriptions. Where does that leave them? Often in the unenviable position of being out of touch.

All this suggests that in the future teams will need to spend more time in mutual assessment and be readier to accept collective responsibility for what they achieve. In being collectively accountable to a superior, teams will need to face up to the downside of greater empowerment. The person in charge under this new scenario may be justified in dismissing a less than successful team and to assemble a new one.

The presumption in the past was that those in charge knew everything that was going on. Few managers these days would dare to make such a bold claim. New technology is changing culture. Wistful managers now feel they are being bypassed because websites and e-mails are generating a vast amount of information through lateral communication. As a consequence, the bedrock of traditional hierarchy is being relentlessly undermined in the process. Managers are going inevitably to feel the need to change the way they approach their jobs. They will have to think more about the nature of accountability and about how responsibilities can best be transferred to high performance teams. C Squares ® will change not only the way you acquire new information but how you share it.