DS Performance Group - Dramatic and Sustainable Performance - Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
Home
About Us
Products & Services
Innovative Ideas
Contact Us
Viking Ship Cartoon



Team Roles

We use this model to differentiate the roles and responsibilities of teams and management. Role clarity is critical to avoiding a team vs. management situation that results in a bid for power between teams and management. Click on the model to explore the basic roles of teams in the hierarchical organization.

— Interactive Diagram: Use Mouse to Navigate  —

Integration

In its most generic sense, the role of a team is to integrate efforts across organizational boundaries in order to do the right things for the business. The organizational hierarchy differentiates people, process and structure to increase efficiency by doing things right the first time. But the down side of differentiation is that it creates organizational silos that inhibit collaboration across boundaries. This lack of collaboration often leads the organization to do the wrong things, right the first time.

While people spend most of their time working within their function to do their job, there are times when they must engage in teamwork across organizational boundaries to achieve goals and address critical issues that are outside of their authority and control. Complex issues that cross multiple boundaries may require a formal team to maximize collaboration and do the right thing for the business.

The role of a team is to maximize collaboration across the organizational hierarchy to determine the right things to do. It accomplishes this by creating an environment where individuals are freed from functional roles and responsibilities to determine the right thing to do for the business.

Differentiation

The organizational hierarchy differentiates people, process and structure to increase efficiency and do things right the first time. It creates specialist roles, institutional rules and a tight structure with long chains of command. Specialists roles develop experts who are better able to do things right the first time. Institutional rules create defined processes that can be brought under statistical process control to drive out deviation and increase efficiency. A tight structure eliminates redundancy and keeps people focused on their jobs and the rules.

Differentiation also creates stability, loyalty and resistance to change. While this increases efficiency (right the first time), it also decreases effectiveness (right things). The role of a team is to maximize collaboration across the organizational hierarchy to determine the right things to do.

Planning, Decisions, Problems & Communications

Teams play four major roles in business organizations. They integrate planning, decision-making and problem solving across organizational boundaries to do the right thing for a specific action. A new product team, for example, integrates new product activity across organizational boundaries by creating a project plan with a critical path. By organizing activities based on their predecessor and successor relationships, the team can determine the right way and the best way to build a new product.

The fourth key role of a team is communications. Teams have no position power to boss people around so they must rely on information and analysis to get things done. The process of capturing and analyzing information creates a huge knowledge base that teams communicate to others in the organization. Communicating this information outside the team keeps everyone in the know and improves business decision-making across the organization.

It is important to note that teams do not actually do the work. A product team, for example, does not actually build the product. Once a project plan is in place, the specialists within the organization do the actual work, not the team. This means that most team members play two different roles throughout the team process — they put on their team hat to determine the right thing to do, then put on their functional hat and actually do the work right the first time. This dramatically increases the ability of organizations to do the right things, right the first time.

Process

The information that teams need to determine the right things to do resides in the hierarchical organization. Therefore the team must reach out to people inside the hierarchy and involve them in team actions. When a product development team develops a project plan, for example, it may have to get input from dozens of people who are not team members to create an accurate plan. This means the team will have to reach outside the team and involve others from time to time. In fact, each time a team makes a plan, a decision or solves a problem it will have to reach outside the team and involve the right people, at the right time, and in the most efficient manner.

Right Things

Each team member knows the right thing to do for their function, but the main responsibility of a team is to create an environment where people can come together and determine the right things to do for the business. The team setting is ideal for this because it creates freedom from functional roles and responsibilities. Team members are not there to represent or protect their function — they have a whole chain of command dedicated to doing that task — they are there to determine the right thing to do for the business. This is the difference between a team and a committee. People on a committee are there to represent and protect their function. This is why committees are notorious for getting little done and compromising until they seem to come up with the worst of all worlds.

A team creates an environment where people can be extremely open and honest when exploring alternatives and criteria, and innovative and creative when developing actions. A team creates a little oasis in the desert of organizational politics where individuals can come together and openly suggest that the King is not wearing any clothes.

Right the First Time

A camel is a horse designed by a committee”— you donít ask a team to do a designerís job. Teams create the ideal environment for figuring out the right things to do, but they are not the best environment for doing those things right the first time. Doing things right the first time is the strength of the hierarchical organization. A product team, for example, will develop the right project plan with a critical path. But lab will do the development activities, manufacturing will do the product activities and sales will do the sales activities. Teams and management, each doing different roles, increases the ability of an organization to do the right things, right the first time.

Team Roles & Responsibilities

Teams provide organizations with a tool to minimize the weaknesses of the hierarchical organization. One of those weaknesses is the ability to collaborate across organizational boundaries to do the right things for the business. Teams address this weakness by creating an integration point where people can come together, freed from their functional roles and responsibilities, to use their collective wisdom to determine the right things to do for the business.

Teams and management play two different but complimentary roles. Teams are excellent at figuring out the right things to do for the business; functions are excellent at doing things right the first time. Together, teams and management can increase the organizationís ability to do the right things, right the first time.

Comments Welcome!

Click here to go back to Innovative Ideas