Team chemistry

I was reminded this week of the importance of team chemistry. Even though I can document and decompose the functions that any team must perform and explicitly model the roles played by each member and the interactions among them (think N-Squared Diagrams), that model is always missing something. The essence of the team is always more than the sum of these elements.


Because teams are made up of individuals with values, histories, personalities, free will and the ability to learn/adapt, I doubt if there is cause-effect or state model that can confidently predict the outcome when team A is launched against project X or mission Y.

If you’re leading a team when tackling a grand challenge, you will likely accomplish more by encouraging the team to be creative and aim high against shared goals than by micro-managing the team’s internal processes. Foster ownership of the key decisions and collaboration and continuous learning as the team’s foundation.

There will be early indicators of success:

  • Individuals respect one another and value each other as human beings regardless of their titles, capabilities and performance.
  • Individuals seek the welfare of other team members above themselves. They don’t see the team as a zero-sum game or their teammates as stepping stones.
  • Individuals can laugh at their own foibles and failures. When they (frequently) poke fun at each other, they have their own limitations in view.
  • Conflict is over issues that matter and debates are over the pursuit of facts or high-confidence estimates, not pet peeves and personality traits.

While I believe that certain management techniques (e.g Top Ten Decisions List) can contribute to team success, the biggest contributors are the individuals who make a daily choice to labor hard, learn well, have fun and seek team results above personal advancement. They will do that because they have developed character and integrity as a result of their daily life/work decisions; this character is expressed as personal values and habits that will make the team outperform their individual contributions.

My team at Decision Driven® Solutions is such a team; I’m blessed to labor with them.

About decisiondriven

Innovator in Decision Management, Systems Thinking and System Engineering methods and tools
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