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21st century teams

BestofBiz Briefings are articles on topical management issues from the London Business School, with links, references and further reading. This article can also be viewed free on the BestofBiz website.

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One perspective: dotcoms fail not because they are dotcoms per se but because they are badly-run businesses with inexperienced management and lack of effective leadership.

Following the dotcom-play implosion, thoughts are returning to how to build sustainable businesses made up of people who collaborate and work effectively together in teams supported by leaders who know how to achieve optimum performance from people individually and in groups. The internet is only the latest in a series of technology tools where success or failure of a project, venture or business has depended more on the effectiveness of a group of people than on the technology itself.

Here are a few key latest ideas, studies and success stories about 21st century project-based team working.

The team leader needs to take into account factors such as:

Size matters. Have the smallest number of people possible on the team, a maximum of 7-9 people is commonly recommended. Certainly with any more than 15-20 people the connections between team members are too hard to make. Want a team not a committee.

No delegates. The team should be able to make (most of) its decisions in situ. It is counterproductive for team members to have to refer a decision made by the team to someone else to get approval then report back to the team.

Understanding of team objective, purpose, cause. These should be agreed or at least understood by all team members including benefits to achieving objective successfully and how to get there.

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