The topic of teams is an enduring one for HBR. Enter "teams" into the search box on our home page and you'll get more than 5,000 hits. Many of the lessons learned are evergreen: Assemble the right mix of skills and personalities, set goals, evaluate outcomes, and so forth.
But the context in which teams operate has shifted many times, and the challenges have evolved accordingly. And arguably, the most dramatic shifts have occurred over the past decade. Most businesses today are either global or have global aspirations. Teams increasingly cross functional, organizational, cultural, and geographic boundaries. The matrixed structure that's rapidly supplanting the traditional hierarchy has created confusion over how teams and leaders approach power, authority, and accountability. Technologies have created new ways of communicating and collaborating, but using them productively entails a shared understanding that doesn't come automatically. And more and more teams are dynamically forming and breaking apart, formed to solve specific problems, then dissolved and re-formed to attack another issue.
Today's teams don't have a lot of time for the customary team-building exercises, and team members may never meet face-to-face. People come from altogether different backgrounds, yet they're expected to pull together toward a common goal almost instantly.
Given all these challenges, what makes today's high performing teams click? We have a special section on the secrets of great teams in April's issue of HBR, but we also created this Insight Center as a place to explore the topic in greater depth. We've assembled some of our current and classic content on this page, and over the next month, we'll be publishing blog posts from some of today's leading thinkers and practitioners on the subject of how to get the most out of teams. As always, we welcome your comments on our posts; we hope you'll join us in a lively debate.
This post is part of the HBR Insight Center on The Secrets of Great Teams.
This blog first appeared on Harvard Business Review on 3/20/2012.
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