Scaling Teamwork

When i was a lad, I thought that teams were somewhat generic. A person would either be good or not so good at being a team player.

As I have gained experience, I have come to realize that this is not an adequate explanation why some teams work and some do not. There are other factors at play. And one of them is the fit between the skills people bring to the team and the challenges the team is designed to meet.

In other words, you can assemble a great team that will fail because it is not great at what the team is supposed to do. And what a team is supposed to do evolves over time. Fred Wilson brings this out very nicely in the start up world. The team that is great at the initial phase of a company is not the team that will be great after the company scales.

That is easily understood in an institutional context. But it also applies to teamwork organized around problem solving. The team that starts figuring out the solutions to a problem may not be the best team to test ideas or implement the solutions that work.  If this is so, folks engaged in problem solving may need to think more carefully about  scaling teamwork.

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