The Myth of the Team

The concept of teams is one that is widespread viewed as good and taught by parents and in the schools from the very early days of almost every child.

There are many reasons for this culture that have nothing to do with how much better teams work when compared to individual efforts. It is all about getting the young to learn the concept of the other, how to live with the differences, and how to deal with dysfunction and conflict.

A single person can be productive, and also, can have many problems. Putting a group of people together also mean that the possibility for problems is multiplied.

In general, teams will find a stable situation, they naturally seek equilibrium in the relationship of its members in a way they can manage to live together. This means avoiding conflict at almost all costs. People will try to find a comfort zone, even without thinking about it.

The big problem here is that the continuous generation of conflict and resolution is what makes a team more productive than individuals.

Also, conflict is dangerous because it can break the bonds that keep the teams together. Too much conflict destroys the team, too little and the team will produce nothing good.

The team dynamics reminds me of a history book by renowned Helio Jaguaribe (Um estudo critico da História). In this book, he demonstrates by looking at the many different failed and successful societies in history that one of the major factors of success is the good challenge. If the challenge is too great, society is destroyed. If the challenge is too little, society will fall into a comfort zone that stops it in time and will render it unprepared to deal with future difficulties.

The teams are a micro cosmos of society, and like societies, a team needs a good challenge and good conflict to thrive.

The goods of teamwork are not given. It is not by simply putting people together that they will be better together than they are in the sum of their individual efforts.

To find good teams, one will see that there is always a factor that “rocks the boat” when conformance rises, and something to bring a gentle breeze when people are about to kill each other.

To purposely build a successful team is even harder than “finding them in nature”. It is not a task to be underestimated.

Continued here…

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One Response to “The Myth of the Team”

  1. tobiasmayer Says:

    Nice post. I agree that the success of teams is highly dependent on the conflict within, about working WITH that conflict and using it as a source for good energy. I read recently that 70% of all conflict in marriages never goes away, NEVER goes away. Couples that stay together either tolerate and compromise, ending up complacent and not really happy, or they harness the energy, rethink, reconceive and reach new planes of creativity and acceptance

    In the book Surfing the Edge of Chaos, the authors state “equilibrium is the precursor to death”. We so often seek stability, repeatability, and yet, as you so eloquently point out, it comes at a cost.

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