i) Introduction - Teams

Most people know that Sir Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay climbed Mount Everest (in 1958) but what is less well known is that a team of 500 backed them up (Tony Boyd, 2013a)

It is a similar story with the successful NASA's moonshot in 1969. People remember the names of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, the 3 American astronauts who went to the moon. Yet behind them there was a team of 400,000 people who work together to make the mission successful (Mike Cannon-Brookes 2019)

Despite the popular myths, Steve Jobs did not invent the iPhone (the bestselling product of all time, eg 1.2 b. sold by 2017). He was supported by a team of people designers, hardware engineers, user interface experts, software engineers, etc who experimented with a collection of technologies to develop the core of the iPhone, ie multi-touch finger sensors to work with Apple software. it is interesting to note that around 15 years before its launch, a similar product to the iPhone was developed called the IBM Simon, eg a large black rectangular product with touchscreen buttons, apps and a web browser. It was not successful. However Steven Jobs' role was pivotal due to his business manoeuvrings, his an aesthetic tastes, etc..

Similarly, Edison did not invent the lightbulb; it was developed by a team of brilliant researchers (including Edison). He simply perfected it into a consumer product.

NB "...The vast majority of inventions were achieved not just by people working in teams, but often simultaneously, by different teams, even sometimes working in different parts of the world..."

Mark Lemley as quoted by Brian Merchant, 2017

. Teams are one of the ways to improve management/employee communications, organisational performance, and foster connectedness and empowerment. Some definitions of "team":

"...teams also bring a diversity of individual traits and capacities that enables task to be shared according to the interest and capabilities of the team members..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

"...a group of people who need one another in order to take effective action..."

Robert Hicks et al, 1990

"...A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable..."

Harvard Business Review as quoted by Tony Lendrum, 1998

"...T = Together; E = Everybody; A = Achieves; M = More..."

L&D Earthmoving, 2001

Remember: there is no "I" in the word "team" but there is a "ME" and in France, the word team is "equipe"


"...Organisations experimenting with the team concept soon discovered that teams take time, teams can fail, not everyone wants to work in teams, not every manager wants to rely on teams, team accountability is a slippery concept, teams vary in effectiveness, and that teams are slow mechanisms for dealing with a crisis. Yet there were enough gains to keep the concept popular..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

"...Teamwork is a practice. Great teamwork is an outcome; we can only create conditions for it to flourish......we cannot simply will it to happen....... becoming skilled at doing more with others may be the single most important thing you can do..."

Christopher Avery as quoted by Jerry Useem, 2006

"...successful teamwork depends more on management skills than on technical expertise......members of teams respond favorably when their suggestions are taken seriously and when reflections on a procedure occur in a collegial manner......decision-making as a process rather than an event. Members of a group should be encouraged to ask questions of one another, to weigh the pros and cons alternatives, to advocate positions other than their own; such an approach militates against hierarchy and promotes buy-in once a decision has been made..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

(sources: Robert Hicks et al, 1990; Robert Kriegel et al, 1996; Harry Onsman, 2004d; Jerry Useem, 2006a; Howard Gardner, 2006a)


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