The Three types of organisational teams

First find out what type of team you are dealing with!

One of the most important team questions, often not properly resolved when a team is setup is:

"What type of team is it?"

Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, in an article The Discipline of Teams, published in the Harvard Business Review July –August 2005 - The High Performance Organisation provide some insight into this by identifying three broad types of teams:

  1. Recommender Teams: those that recommend things – task forces or project groups
  2. Doer Teams: those that make or do things – manufacturing, operations, or marketing groups
  3. Managing Teams: those that run things – groups that oversee some significant functional activity

Team Type affects team collaboration strategy

If you are not clear on what type of team you are dealing with then you are unlikely to have the right focus in your team collaboration strategy.

For example:

Recommender Teams are often part-time; great for reviewing work but can lack a “team engine” for getting detailed work done.

Managing Teams are often staffed with senior executives who have serious time management challenges and are unlikely to engage with traditional team communication and meeting approaches.

Doer teams are great for doing things but their networks may be limited to their own functional areas which can blind them to some innovation and cross-functional opportunities.

Once you have resolved what kind of team it is you can then ask the second key question:

“Do you have the right kind of team members for the job at hand?”

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Collaborative thinking: four key roles
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