Mastering the Art of Teaming is the New Way to Work


I’ve been thinking about Teaming a lot. I first stumbled upon the concept of teaming while researching what makes a team most effective in today’s organizational landscape.

This is when I learned of Google’s two-year study Project Aristotle, psychological safety and work of Amy C. Edmonson. In its simplest form, teaming means “teamwork on the fly”. I have since uncovered a lot more info on the concept of teaming and its role in organizational development today.

I was about a quarter way through Amy’s latest book, “The Fearless Organization” and I had to stop and really reflect on this concept, I had a Eureka moment. Although the word was new to me, the problem teams and organizations are facing today because of the inability to collaborate on the fly is not new to me.

We have been talking for a long time about the speed of change in today’s work environments and how organizations should be thinking about developing cultures and people skills that meet the climate where it stands.

“Over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” (Harvard Business Review) Seems to me there are two things linking up here, the speed of change and the need to collaborate faster.

As teamwork and the concept of team relates to my work in Applied Improv, my philosophy is

The better you know the people you work with, create trust and adhere to the principle of getting each other’s back, the more effective you will perform and collaborate.

It’s not that these things are not true or important, but the thing is, as the landscape has evolved so has the conditions and the people. There is no other choice but to meet these changes with a new approach.

What makes people successful at collaborating and team effectiveness in our new landscape is an approach that responds to the new norm, and the new norm is change that happens fast.

This is not a newsflash, contrary to the amount of hype it gets on a daily basis. It’s a given. Organizations are complicated, uncertain, complex and chaotic. The reality is…change is happening fast and is unpredictable and the right response to this condition is desperately needed.

The “teaming” concept really resonated with me because the traditional approach to teamwork and team effectiveness has been to ensure people learn to trust each other, create vulnerability and cultivate a climate where people look out for each other building a stable unit over time.

While these things are valuable and can work, today’s work climate is begging for something more, something that responds and meets us in an environment characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, or VUCA.

In many work climates today, we do not have time to spend months getting to know each other, building trust, going to Top Golf, making vision boards and waiting for egos to be abandoned. Collaboration, in many cases, needs to happen on the fly and without hesitation or judgment.

It is time to respond and stop talking and meet the moment.