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Designing and Creating More Diversity in Team Building

Detailed Description

High functioning teams evolve and change over time. This is normal and is a healthy team process and dynamic. In particular, there are some distinct stages in teams that result from 1) team leadership styles, and 2) team decision making styles.  

Early and then later team dynamics are often driven by individual personalities, visions and ideals formed from traditional ways of doing things or social expectations and norms. rather than team processes and decisions based on shared goals. 

As teams evolve, they take on distinct styles and personalities as a team. These include: 

  1. an initial Visionary role by forging new and progressive ideas and start to establish new niches and organizational role that is not yet addressed; 
  2. as momentum and success are realized, the team in a Barbarian role starts to expand and develop new turf, capacities, and expand their influence; 
  3. teams then start to reach an optimum efficiency as Builder and Explorer in creating new products, services, innovations and finding new ways of being successful in objectives. 

NOTE: this is a critical apex is where a team has often accomplished and fulfilled its original purpose and function. If objectives have been met and fulfilled, this is where the team should celebrate and expire.  

If there are next levels of growth and opportunity, from team outputs, there is a need for an individual or subset of individuals as Synergists to spin off and create an entirely new team to repeat this cycle by becoming the Visionary for the next team. Often times we create a next team using the same people, which destroys opportunity to create new insights, perspectives, and diversity of thought and ideas. 

If not reset, teams start to disintegrate at this stage. A first stage of this decline is the team taking on 5) an Administrator role, relying on comfort in the same ideas, processes, and decision models to maintaining a status quo. As power players maintain seats and team conformity becomes institutionalized and expected, the Bureaucrat mode becomes entrenched with team members taking on supporting roles to the team leaders, not team objectives. Finally, as team power and decisions devolve to select individuals as an Aristocratic team, all sense of reliance on shared team goals and principles is lost. 

While seemingly counter intuitive, a sweet spot to inject new ideas and diversity is during the rise and height of a team before it starts to evolve into an administrative role. This not only promotes the evolution, growth and change of work team vision and objectives, it also provides a place to foster any emerging synergists to create new opportunities and reduce staleness of team thinking and habits.


Public Domain.

David Hu, Fish Biologist, USGS