By the time we enter the work force, most professionals have had the (mis)fortune of working with a group of individuals, for a project. That experience may have been a pleasant or an un pleasant experience. However, those groups, when functioning appropriately, work in one of two ways. The groups wither function as a ‘team’ or the function as a ‘work group or working group’.
A working group are two or more individuals who routinely function like a team, are interdependent in achievement of a common goal, and may or may not work next to one another or in the same department (business dictionary). A team however, is a A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project (business dictionary).
For most of us, we fail to really understand the benefits or the distinction between the two. So when do we use one over the other? Well the basis of a working group, is having a group of individuals who can function autonomously, e.g. you assign each member to a specific portion of the project, and they then become responsible for that section of the final product. Where as in teams each member works together towards the common goal of the finished product.
By default, most individuals opt towards the working group, this is because its easier. It is easier to delegate tasks. By delegating tasks, you limit the need to meet as a whole, and limit the need to truly collaborate as a team, or interact with the other members of the group. What we do not consider is that there is an immense benefit to working past the discomfort. One of Tom Peters’ guiding principles is to involve everyone with everything. When you work in teams, and follow that guiding principle you really get a good sense of what the members of your team are capable of. The team benefits from being involved in every step, and the project benefits from creativity and innovation that comes from having more than one mind looking at the problem.
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