Missions that only a team can perform

There are missions that only a team can do. In other words, there are tasks that an individual will never be able to do. For instance, winning the football (soccer) world championship, as the Spanish team did during summer 2010 in South Africa.

And why is it so? Sometimes, it is a matter of volume: you need more than one person to do it – but not always. If volume were the only criteria, the only important thing would be to have a lot of people together. And that is not a team.

Others, it is a matter of skills. A person cannot master or even be able to do all the tasks in the mission. But again, the solution is to have a lot of people working together with different skills. And again, that is not a team – at all.

So why some missions can only be performed by teams? Because, sometimes, the skills required to perform them are team-based. The capabilities are in the team, but not assigned to a single individual. Let’s get back to the soccer example. What is the meaning of “the team plays very fast”? Does it means that all the players run all the time? Certainly not. It means that some of them run while others stand in a strategic location, that they pass the ball fast even if they are still. All the players might be fixed in a position and the team can be playing very fast. The velocity is in the team, not in the individuals.

This may happen in business environments. What’s the meaning of “business acumen”, “customer orientation” or “innovation” in a team? It is not that the team members have those capabilies, but rather, the structure, the vision, the values of the team, the rewards and the messages support and build them. Those skills are not only in the individuals but among them.

But, even if we agree to this, we hire individuals – brilliant individuals and assume that they will team together. You have to put a lot of effort to build a team, and even with that effort, the chances of that to happen are low.

This is why at TM=GR* we propose that if you really need a team, hire a team. If your mission needs to be performed by a team, look for a team.