In my capacity as director of INSEAD’s Leadership Development Programme (Global Executive MBA), I frequently ask participants how many teams they are a part of in their organisation. These days, it is rare to hear the answer “one”; some report belonging to as many as six or seven.
The recent profusion of team affiliations in companies reflects a larger trend towards organisations becoming flatter and operating more in what Deloitte terms “networks of teams.” Increasing pressure to be agile in response to ever-changing challenges has resulted in the rise of independent cross-functional (and often cross-cultural teams) convened to tackle a particular project or assignment. Like a Hollywood film crew, they work closely together for a number of weeks or months and disband upon completion of their mission. During their work, they are largely left alone by higher-ups to formulate their own goals and work processes.
Technology has been a major facilitator in this transition to networks of teams. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Trello and other team-based platforms enable seamless, nearly instant virtual collaboration and communication across silos and national borders. But in my opinion, unless a conscious effort is made to also leverage digital technologies and new ways of working to actively guide team development, organisations will not fully extract the true value of team performance.
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