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Bosideon Consulting

What Is A Team?

By Charlie Wilson
Friday, February 15, 2019

Tug of War TeamOne definition of a team is a group of individuals with a shared aim. To consider what makes a team, consider some groups of people who share an aim and what these can reveal about the nature of teams.

First, a bus queue: that is a group of people with the same aim but they are obviously not a team. What they do doesn't make a difference to the outcome - they can't wait faster because they wait together. But if they were to form a campaign group to press for a better bus service ...

What about people in a queue at a sale? That seems even worse because individuals are competing with each other. Or are they? Suppose two of them started to talk and found out that they were after different bargains in the sale. They might find out that, if they cooperated ...

What about a Tug-of-War Team? That is obviously a group working together with the same aim, all doing the same thing. Is it a good example of a team? Yes and no: a researcher called Ringelmann investigated the difference between the amount of effort put into a task such as pulling on a rope by individuals working alone or in teams. He found that people put less effort in when in a team, a phenomenon he called Social Loafing. This might sound a bit harsh, but it is the way human's behave in certain conditions. In simple terms, to encourage teamwork you reduce the conditions that encourage 'Social Loafing'.

Most people, when they think of a good example of a team, will think of a sports team. If you follow any sport you will probably be able to think of examples when an apparently weaker team defeated an apparently stronger one because they played better together. There are lessons from these and other examples that can help create strong teamwork in other situations.

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