Teamwork Without Borders

by Jobbatical January 14, 2015

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There was a time when a team was a static concept. A group of people, in business or in sports, working together, training together, experiencing a journey together, from start to finish — whether that be as part of a college football team, or a working group developing a product or managing a project together.

There would be a starting point at which the team forms. A middle, during which the team bonds and builds, perhaps over an extended time of ‘storming’ (to borrow Bruce Tuckman’s model). And finally an end — an achievement of the original goal, in which the team norm and then perform together — delivering the project, winning the sports match. The cycle may take many years — even a working lifetime — with the aim being to build a solid and stable team unit, and make continuous iterative progress.

But, despite having many merits, Tuckman’s model dates back to 1965, and the future of teams lies in more quickly assembled and often transient groups, where individual talent comes together globally, in person — and virtually with the benefit of technological advances — with the aim of making leaps forward. Today’s team works without borders, draws inspiration from creative thinkers, and revels in being challenged by the new and the different, rather than comforted by the familiar and sturdy.

Teamwork on the fly

Amy C Edmonson, in her article ‘Teamwork on the Fly’ for Harvard Business Review, talks about the team who successfully delivered the Water Cube aquatic centre for the Beijing Olympics. As well as being a stunning building, the creation of the team to design and construct this project is nothing short of a feat — including dozens of people from over 20 disciplines and four different counties, in an example of what Edmonson describes as ‘Teaming’.

Teaming, according to the author, is the future of teamwork — a way of teams assembling on a temporary basis to solve problems that they are facing for the first time — and may never face again. Teaming works without worry about national borders, or traditional approaches to gradually establishing a group. Teaming allows for the unique combination of skills needed for any given task to be pulled together, without having to compromise on the right talent for the task in hand — before the team dissolves, with each individual contributor moving on to their next challenge.

Bridging the gap

Moving to this working model requires a focus on business having access to the right talent for their own unique challenges. And this is exactly where jobbaticals come in. Increasingly, professionals are looking to gather a wide range of working experience — and businesses are wakening up to the need to offer top talent the opportunity to take sabbatical time from their main roles, to do so. An untapped global pool of talent is awaiting interesting and stretching challenges to work on during their sabbaticals, and here at Jobbatical, we can help you hook up, so you too can embrace the benefits of teamwork without borders.

Read more about Jobbatical

Harvard Business school, ‘Working Knowledge’, ‘The Importance of Teaming’
Edmonson, Amy C, Harvard Business Review April 2012, ‘Teamwork on the Fly’

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