Organizational teams: the three basic types
One of the most important team questions, often ignored when a traditional or virtual team is setup, is What type of team are we actually dealing with here?
The Three types of organisational teams
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:
- Recommender Teams: those that recommend things - task forces or project groups
- Doer Teams: those that make or do things - manufacturing, operations, or marketing groups
- 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.
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?"
Bioteams Books Reviews
If you think that there is not much human teams can learn from nature think again! Temple Grandin in her amazing book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (p303-307) puts forward the incredible theory that early humans only became today’s successful homo sapiens because they learned to act and think like the wolves they co-habited with.