Nobody really wants the "1 person per project" situation. It just seems to happen. The office is filled with people. But they work alone. When they communicate, it's just talk, or a meeting where they tell each other about the lack of progress on their solo-projects.
It's not that anybody really believes, that "1 person per project" is the most efficient way of doing things. It just gravitates towards this situation, slowly, but relentlessly.
I think we need to appreciate the fruits of teamwork more in knowledgework. Although teamwork is highly praised, it's also cumbered by an air of excessiveness.In to many workplaces the model of efficiency is: Sitting at your screen frowning & typing. In such a climate teamwork will be considered wastefull... a lot of hours.
Here's my 4 power-reasons why working together will get you further:
Teamwork reduces waste from errors
I hate spending time correcting errors and doing rework on something that entered my desk already flawed. When working close together, teams will be able seek out and eradicate errors faster. Also, misunderstandings, fromwhen a project is passed on from one person to another, will be fewer if the persons working on project, sits in a team, and keep an eye on each other.
Teamwork allows for Faster Execution
When you have a bunch of people working together all day long at the same project, the project is always moving. The project isn't sitting in some mailbox waiting for the next person in line, like some poor schmuck in the airport, always standing in line to achieve even the slightest task. You probably know the situation. You need some minor job done by someone in another department. It's really just a 10 minute task. But in calendar time it ends up taking 2 weeks! A tightly lead team will be able to set a goal, and discuss how to get there fastest! Fast is good!
Teamwork leads to better Knowledge Distribution
"Ohh.. this is a system A job. It can only done by John. Because he made it." You know this situation. It sucks! Because John is always busy. He's the bright one. Everybody wants John. He is a real bottle-neck in your production flow. Everything slows down around John. Well if John worked on system A with someone else for a period, then this bottle-neck could be widened. And the value of John's coworkers would be hightened. Everybody has valuable information. In a team they get to share this with others.
Strong teams have Better Morale
This is perhaps my favourite reason to introduce more teamwork. It's good for morale. When you perform in a team you get instant appreciation from your colleagues. What you did meant something for your team. Together you build a foundation for pride in your work. I love this quote by Dennis Kinlaw:
Work and self-worth are the two factors in pride that interact with each other and that tend to increase the strong sense of pride found in superior work teams. When people do something of obvious worth, they feel a strong sense of personal worth. - Dennis Kinlaw
These are powerful reasons to start doing more together. It just takes a lot of focus. And this is perhaps the reason why it fails so often. Leadership needs to be in place. If you don't guard this way of working, it's destroyed. Lack of priorities will let your list of projects grow longer and longer forcing you to split up teams. And pretty soon you'll see the four horsemen of ineffectiveness riding through your halls.
- Knowledge Hoarding
- Priority Politics...and the final and most fearsome rider
- "Who gives a shit"
- Jens Poder