Does Your Team Have A Structure?

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The overwhelming importance of teams to the success of organisations has been emphasised for some time. However, it appears that current research on teams focus on its dysfunction.

The mechanistic view reduces teams to simple ‘input-process-output machines’, and holds that success depends on employing the right people, giving the right incentives and taking the right decisions, and that improving a team depends on how the components are optimised.

Contrary to this negative approach,  a new positive and systems approach to teams in organisations, has now been proposed by Deborah Ancona and Williams Issac of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The researchers adopted David Kantor’s and William Lehr’s family model (1975), and submit that researchers should see teams as living and growing, creative and proactive organisms.

Consequently, they developed a model for structural balance in teams consisting of four core acts possible in both healthy and dysfunctional team behaviours. They are:

  1. Move: Launches a course and gets the team moving.
  2. Follow: Offers backing for the move and serves the role of accomplishment.
  3. Oppose: Queries the course that has been introduced.
  4. Bystand: Gives viewpoint and asks the team to be more thoughtful.


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A successful and healthy team is only achieved when these acts are performed by the members in an orderly and appropriate manner. Imbalance and dysfunctionality occurs when one act is overbearing, while a void is created  when any of the acts is void or weak.

The framework being structural and impersonal, can manifest in two or more persons or even in an individual. By proposing a more practical set of principles to team theory, it appears the structural level of teams is the key to reaping and enjoying the advantages of a balanced team.

Does your team benefit from?

  • Inclusiveness: No single standpoint is permitted to dictate?
  • Repair: The team can pull through from disparity presented by an obstinate opposer.
  • Adaptation: Reacting to change without becoming unyielding or cautious?
  • Differentiation: The chance to make an original input.

What current challenges limit your team?



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