Lockdown – Crossing Boundaries at the Speed of Thought
The Covid pandemic has turned the world of work upside down. Organisations are forced to cross boundaries on every level with speed of action. Depending on cross-disciplinary collaboration, flattened hierarchies with less people and continuous innovation have become the order of the day. Teaming is the upshot of the “new normal”, the fast track of teamwork. It represents a new much more flexible way of working to carry out interdependent tasks with shared and distributed leadership. To excel in this complex and uncertain, forever changing business environment, people need to both work and learn together. Teaming therefore blends relating to the differences of people effectively, listening to other points of view, coordinating actions, and making shared decisions in the nick of time.
A consequence of lockdown resulted in work conditions that requires; People to juggle multiple objectives with minimal oversight / People to shift from one situation to another while maintain high levels of communication and tight coordination / When it is helpful to integrate perspectives from different disciplines / Collaborating across dispersed locations / When pre-planned coordination is impossible or unrealistic due to the changing nature of the work / When complex information must be processed, synthesised, and put to good use quickly. It literally defines the practice of teaming. Boundary crossing will invariably trigger defensiveness for many. However, there is simply no time for becoming defensive because you are operating out of your comfort zone. Self-organisation and self-management are the key requirements for success.
There is considerable room for improvement in the way the intelligence of a team is utilized – that is the potential for ‘collective thinking’ to improve performance. Collective thinking breeds team intelligence and emotional intelligence. It is the meeting of minds where each person retains his/her individuality and at the same time contributes to a robust and diverse group-level conversation. It is the bedrock of proactive action in time vs. a too late defensive reactive action.
Genetic Code vs Culture
Culture is a closed system, a feel-good tool, a set of behavioural blinders; it makes a corporation comfortable with its habits. It venerates tradition and worship habit: “The way we do things around here”. That does not hold anymore in today’s continuously changing landscape. The genetic code however carries the DNA of a team created in its identity, staying the same despite changing circumstances. Genetic coding imprints notions of identity and values as culture does, but in so doing suggests a sense of forward-looking. A sense that everything done today is dealing with what gets presented in the moment as an investment in the future, not an expression of the past. Each teaming interaction accommodates the different team identities through the imprints of the genetic coding in each individual member, a more biological perspective not tribal.
Relationships & Personal Autonomy
Success of the teaming process requires a psychological safe environment where people are willing to speak up, offer ideas, raise questions and concerns. Trust and respect form the basis of healthy relationships for giving tough feedback and have difficult conversations without the need to tiptoe around the truth. Personal autonomy is therefore essential to participate and exercise the freedom for self-determination, self-direction, self-realisation and self-responsibility. Becoming autonomous involves being part of something larger than oneself, a group. It includes a sense of belonging and an urge to grow through co-operation, collaboration and connectedness. In other words, we don’t experience ourselves as the centre of the world. It is neither an outcome nor a final destination, but an on-going process. It is a co-created phenomenon, generated in the here-and-now circumstances through differing experiences and relationships. Personal autonomy builds confidence, reinforces ownership of actions, promotes critical and creative thinking, and enables us to live out our truths, our wants. It’s reclaiming our personal power to grow and be fulfilled in what we do.
Teaming across distance, knowledge, and status boundaries is increasingly vital, as old models (economic, political, and organisational), old technologies, and old mind-sets prove cumbersome in the face of new escalating challenges.
Sources: Johan Cronjé; Specialist Team Coach, Intégro Learning South Africa; ‘Teaming’, Amy C. Edmondson; Harvard Business School