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A Framework for the classification of innovation teams

The last decade we have introduced many new words inside organizations that describe a new way of working. Very familiar words like Design Thinking, Lean UX, Agile, Scrum and Lean Startup. These are all great to describe the work methods and processes but are really bad in giving meaning to some more basic human factors that are associated with teams. Factors like motivation, values, creative skills, and culture. I really believe strongly that these human needs need much more attention in order to make these modern ways of working effectively.

We must acknowledge the human needs within teams much more than we currently do otherwise many of our innovation efforts will result in failure and waste.

T.E.A.M. Framework helps organizations and teams to better understand the different human needs within different teams that are associated to change and innovation.

Another reason that I have developed this framework is that there is a lot of misconception in the field of teams. We really lack the language to express ourselves when we talk about teams. As teams are becoming an increasingly important cornerstone of organizations it is really needed to expand our vocabulary when talking about teams. With this framework, I discriminate between 4 type of teams. These are archetypical teams. I treat a team like a human in a sense. A unit with shared values operating as one consciousness.

They are to be used as a reference to reflect upon your own teams and help you identify the type of team you are part of, or are interacting with, and what the (human) dynamics of such a team is. In this article I will describe the DNA of these four types and I will share more about the context in which these teams will flourish.

Mutual dependence and TEAM

The output of one type is the input for the other. For example, an M-team won’t start building an operation if there is no object of attraction first by an A-team. An A-team can only make stuff once “the manuals” are made and the requirements are clear. An E-team can only deliver knowledge once resources are freed up to explore. T-teams need resources to transform them. They are provided by the eroding systems that eject resources that have no further value to the system. This is how the four team types work together in regenerating our world.

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Background and details about the classification

These four type of teams can reside anywhere. I have created a classification that is independent of the organizational type or phase of the company(start-up, scale-up or corporation). So you might recognize a T-team as an innovation team within a big corporation or as a visionary founding team of a start-up. Also, teams can migrate from one type to the next as the project they are working on is maturing. If projects are maturing also the team needs to mature and develop a new set of values in order to deliver the work needed with the phase of the project. Team types can also be nested. So an M-team can reside inside a T-team. Of course different type of teams can request support from other types of teams to solve challenges they are not comfortable with to solve.

Most teams won’t fit exactly in one of these categories, most will have a dominant culture that fits with one of the types. By making explicit what type of team you are, you also create clear expectations of the type of work you will do and what you truly value as a team. People understand what they can expect from this team and what not. This way we don’t ask an E-team to improve the conversion of a website or ask an M-team to create a next-generation platform.

There is lots and lots more to share about team types and how to motivate them. If you are interested to know more about the T.E.A.M. Framework and how it can be value for you please fill in the form below. I will email you a pdf with more information.

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