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Description of and education about teams and teamwork have resulted in a vast body of literature. This large body of literature displays the very complexity of teams and teamwork, discussing organizing principles, personal relationships within the team, company goals and objectives and how teams support the overall mission and vision of the organization, to name just a few key issues. These descriptions of teams and teamwork address teaming from the organizational point of view, asking the question: "How can we organize effectively to optimize resources and outcomes?"
There is yet another important facet surrounding teamwork, and that is the development of the individuals who come to the team. Personal skill sets around communication, leadership, and preparation of the individual for accomplishing technical and administrative tasks are just a few of the considerations which must be considered to prepare well developed persons capable of sharing knowledge, engaging personally and professionally with others within teams.
Self-efficacy and acceptance of responsibility rest with the individual, as well as with the organization. While it is important to recruit into the organization, and into teams, people who are self-aware, motivated and hold themselves accountable for good work, it is equally important for organizations to foster environments within which these employees can function together for the greater good of the company.
An environment of self-efficacy and accountability is discussed in "Employee empowerment and learning in construction: an implementation model for process improvement" by Gary Holt et al. The authors make a case for the importance of empowerment of individuals and teams as a mission critical component of competitive success. They discuss a model for optimal implementation of empowerment in construction contractor organizations which they connect to the legitimate, competitive success of the organization operating in the construction industry. Holt et al. describe empowered individuals as offering an organization the opportunity to operate in a flat, collegial environment where employees own their actions and outputs; one very important component of effective teamwork.
Similarly, Alberto Petroni examines "Strategic career development for R&D staff". This article explores a field research project in which Dr Petroni examines the development of R&D staff as a means of creating and sustaining competitive advantage through innovation. Here again we understand the critical link between development of the individual in preparation for work directly related to the accomplishment of mission critical innovation. Understanding the critical linkage between individual needs and organizational goals is critical to success. Dr Petroni states, among other things, that organizations should attend to the unique needs of their R&D employees, looking for matches between what the organization is trying to accomplish and the needs of individuals within those organizations. A one-model recipe for development of R&D staff will not suffice, and may require a new view of job design.
Further exploring the development of the individual in readiness for teamwork, as well as the development of groups, Dr Elspeth McFadzean considers "Techniques to enhance creative thinking". Teams are often developed to explore both problems and to tackle innovation in new product development and in solving organizational issues. Dr McFadzean considers the use of experiential creativity-enhancing techniques to develop individuals and groups who are skilled in thinking modes which enhance their ability to break conceptual paradigms or to preserve existing paradigms. Dr McFadzean does an artful job of discussing the responsibility of the organization to create room for creative, innovative solutions. She remarks that often the organizational structure itself impedes the creativity sought by the organization. She states that vision, participative safety, a climate of excellence and support of innovation are among the four factors which surface in research as key determinants of group innovativeness. While creative acts often occur spontaneously, organizations can do much to foster the ability of individuals and groups to think more creatively together. These factors have much to do with effective deployment and management of teams.
Throughout the next year, we shall be addressing the numerous topics which are important to consider for effective teaming and successful outcomes.
The articles published in this issue of Team Performance Management focus on the development of the individual, an area of teaming often overlooked in the literature, while emphasising at the same time the importance of fostering creativity through creativity-enhancing activities.
Linda S. WingEditor firstname.lastname@example.org