Many of the complex challenges we face today must be addressed by teams rather than individuals. Millions of people and businesses around the world, increasingly work, compete, innovate and succeed as part of a team.
Almost 9 out of 10 companies agree that problems confronting them are now so complex that teams are essential to provide effective solutions. Effective solutions demand teams.*) Increasingly, teams are being used in a variety of applications by a wide range of organizations (project teams, virtual task forces, quality circles, self-directed work teams, standing committees, advisory boards, etc.).
The importance of teams appears to be gaining in strength as jobs get bigger, organizational structures get more complex, and more and more companies become multi-national in scope. In today’s business environment, it appears the team – not the individual – holds the key to business success. Teams and teamwork has now reached a level of importance and inevitability that requires us to sit up and pay real and serious attention to its implications, values, and necessary actions. This is required to make full use of its inherent potential.Science seems to really get it. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics fits nicely into a narrative of teams as key to success — as it was a minimum of three teams that won — not the lonely genius of a single man (as it was exactly 100 years ago). No (wo) man is an island any longer.
If we truly understand that many of the complex challenges we face today must be addressed by teams rather than individuals—and that teams will help the world meet its greatest challenges—then we might also understand that innovative acts (that even robots really can’t handle either) require shared and collective imagination, history, touch, timing, phrasing, understanding, connectivity, and remarkable creativity. Real teams are excellent performers and collaborators that continue to evolve and develop over a long period of time – and without them an organization cannot adapt readily in a shifting environment.If we all understand this, then we will all understand that the right team is paramount.
Despite the common myth of anti-social behavior in science, the arts, and business, no one produces in total silence and isolation. The exchange of ideas and impressions is crucial to any complex process, and this, in the most fecund circumstances, is what a team at its best provides. The team is so much more than the sum of individual constructs. The understanding of teams and teamwork will advance in ways we cannot predict—hopefully being able to keep up with an increased use of teams. A deeper understanding of what makes us “click” will enhance our ability to not only meet the world’s greatest challenges but also to build a better world, together.
Futurists may discuss the increased use of robots and artificial intelligence. But for the moment, we remain the most remarkable of creations—and teams, when functioning at their best, represent an augmented version of our individual selves.
*) Ernst & Young , 2013