A key aspect of organizational design is when to use teams and when to focus on other optimizations where teams are not best suited. Many Agile approaches fail to take into account the context and the nature of the work, assuming a team structure is needed, and simply reorganizing your people into teams regardless of effectiveness or organizational design considerations. This is a fundamental flaw in the way Agile ways of working have been applied.
When scaling any method or approach it is necessary to understand the prerequisites for creating a multiteam system (MTS). Many of the current Agile approaches mandate teams, and structures of teams in an MTS, but they lack any basic Team Science understanding and often create a large bureaucratic overhead that exacerbates the already burdensome ways of working.
In notable books such as Team of Teams, General McChrystal leveraged a MTS approach in his ground breaking work with the Joint Special Operations Command. “He wanted to know – what were the key characteristics of the organization that allowed it to be successful – and how could organizations speed that success in the future?”. McChrystal Group have since gone on to leverage their lessons from Team Science in their own work. Thurlow is one of the leading co-authors on this subject with the pioneering work in The Flow System.
The Field of Team Science
The field of team science is a discipline that studies all things related to teams and small groups in the workplace (e.g., interpersonal conflict, in-group and out-group dynamics, team psychological safety, team effectiveness).
Team science recognizes that teams are dynamic, cross-disciplinary, multidimensional, and complex adaptive systems. The helix of team science in The Flow System™ utilizes the team sciences to maximize the benefits of using team-based structures to address complex and disruptive environments.
Team science is a multidisciplinary field that utilizes evidence-based research to develop and apply new practices and technologies to improve teams and small groups, enabling them to perform more efficiently and effectively in the workplace.
Topics addressed in Team Science include:
- Group Dynamics
- Team Processes
- Team Leadership
- Team Training
- Team Measurement & Evaluation
- Team Cognition
- Team Types
- Team Effectiveness
- Intergroup Conflict
- Change Theory
- Complex Adaptive Systems
- Decision Making
- Problem Solving
- Systems Thinking