But, in my experience, in the most innovative companies, teaming is the culture. Teaming is about identifying essential collaborators and quickly getting up to speed on what they know so you can work together to get things done. This more flexible teamwork in contrast to stable teams is on the rise in many industries because the work — be it patient care, product development, customized software, or strategic decision-making — increasingly presents complicated interdependencies that have to be managed on the fly. The time between an issue arising and when it must be resolved is shrinking fast.

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The truth is, teams are often disbanded before they have a chance to gel, as individual members are delegated to new projects—and therefore new teams—on a hectic as-needed basis. Teaming, she says, is essential to organizational learning. Intense competition, rampant unpredictability, and a constant need for innovation are giving rise to even greater interdependence and thus demand even greater levels of collaboration and communication than ever before.

Teaming is a verb Sports teams and musical groups are both bounded, static collections of individuals. Like most work teams in the past, they are physically located in the same place while practicing or performing together. Members of these teams learn how to interact. Advocating stable boundaries, well-designed tasks, and thoughtfully composed membership, many seminal theories of organizational effectiveness explained how to design and manage just these types of static performance teams.

It is a dynamic activity, not a bounded, static entity. According to this influential perspective, well-designed teams are those with clear goals, well-designed tasks that are conducive to teamwork, team members with the right skills and experiences for the task, adequate resources, and access to coaching and support.

Get the design right, the theory says, and the performance will take care of itself. This model focused on the team as an entity, looking largely within the well-defined bounds of a team to explain its performance. Both perspectives worked well in guiding the design and management of effective teams, at least in contexts where managers had the lead-time and the run-time to invest in composing stable, well-designed teams. In these prior treatments, team is a noun.

A team is an established, fixed group of people cooperating in pursuit of a common goal. But what if a team disbands almost as quickly as it was assembled? For example, what if you work in an emergency services facility where the staffing changes every shift, and the team changes completely for every case or client?

How do you create synergy when you lack the advantages offered by the frequent drilling and practice sessions of static performance teams like those in sports and music? The answer lies in teaming. Teaming is a verb. It is largely determined by the mindset and practices of teamwork, not by the design and structures of effective teams. Teaming is teamwork on the fly. It involves coordinating and collaborating without the benefit of stable team structures, because many operations like hospitals, power plants, and military installations require a level of staffing flexibility that makes stable team composition rare.

You could be working on one team right now, but in a few days, or even a few minutes, you may be on another team. Fast moving work environments need people who know how to team, people who have the skills and the flexibility to act in moments of potential collaboration when and where they appear. They must have the ability to move on, ready for the next such moments.

Teaming still relies upon old-fashioned teamwork skills such as recognizing and clarifying interdependence, establishing trust, and figuring out how to coordinate.

Instead, people need to develop and use new capabilities for sharing crucial knowledge quickly. They must learn to ask questions clearly and frequently.

They must make the small adjustments through which different skills and knowledge are woven together into timely products and services. Why should managers care about teaming? The answer is simple. Teaming is the engine of organizational learning. By now, everyone knows that organizations need to learn how to thrive in a world of continuous change.

But how organizations learn is not as well understood. As discussed later in this chapter, organizations are complex entities; many are globally distributed, most encompass multiple areas of expertise, and nearly all engage in a variety of activities. What does it mean for such a complex entity to "learn"?

An organization cannot engage in a learning process in any meaningful sense—not in the way an individual can. Yet, when individuals learn, this does not always create change in the ways the organization delivers products and services to customers.

This is a conundrum that has long fascinated academics. This book offers a practical answer to the question of how organizational learning really happens: Through teaming.

Products and services are provided to customers by interdependent people and processes. Crucial learning activities must take place, within those smaller, focused units of action, for organizations to improve and innovate.

In spite of the obvious need for change, most large enterprises are still managed according to a powerful mindset I call organizing to execute.


The Importance of Teaming

Edmondson Amy C. She is an expert on organizational behavior and has written extensively on the effectiveness of teamwork in health care, notably in a book titled, "Teaming: How Organizations Innovate, Learn, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy. We do see teams like this in health care doing important work; for example, teams that are formed to work on quality improvement projects. There is a real value and use for formal teams that work together over some period of time. What does that mean in a health care delivery environment?


Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy


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