“Take advantage of a team approach in your search for success and happiness. It can be—and usually is—the difference between success and failure. Think of ways you can begin to incorporate the concept of a team into your life, work, and play. You will be richer for it.” (Gerald Paul—aka “G”)
The concept of team is one of the most complex concepts in leadership. It is both large in its scope and complex in its depth. It is an idea that is too big for a concise definition that will encompass all that in entails. This makes it a difficult idea to define succinctly. In fact, in some ways, it may be one of the most difficult leadership terms to define. And yet, the ability to define “team” marks the beginning of a clear understanding of what a team is, and what it will take to implement an effective team building strategy.
Define Team: Simple vs. Comprehensive
There are two possible approaches to defining team. Each has been employed by various people in their attempt to clarify the meaning of team. The first approach is to settle on a brief definition which states only the very basics of what a team is. The second approach is not satisfied to end there. It attempts to provide a more detailed or comprehensive definition of team that often takes the form of a complete paragraph.
An important choice must be made when defining a concept like “team.” Is it better to try a comprehensive approach and attempt to state all that a team is in a paragraph, or is it better to take a simpler approach and state only the basics in a short definition.
An attempt to be comprehensive will risk the omission of important elements in the concept of “team.” However, the attempt to be brief in ones definition of “team” has its own drawbacks, in that it risks being simplistic in its assessment.
Whichever approach is chosen, the attempt to define “team” will often betray the writers own biases. Different people will highlight different aspects of a “team” depending on their view of “team” and their focus at the time. Thus their definition will contain elements that are important to their own thinking. This, by necessity, will leave other important elements out.
Define Team: A Simple Approach
The simple approach to defining team will result in a definition that is much shorter—usually only one sentence. It seeks to specify what a “team” is at its most basic level, and then to build upon that definition with ongoing development and elaboration.
The complex nature of the concept of a “team” suggests that it might be best to begin by defining “team” in the simplest terms possible, so as not to risk omitting any important elements, and then to build around that very basic foundation. Such a definition would be short, and brief in its description—as you would find in a dictionary.
Currently, this is my preferred approach. That being so I would define “team” as follows: “At its most basic level a team is more than one individual working cooperatively toward a common purpose.”
Define Team: A Comprehensive Approach
A comprehensive approach to defining team attempts to be more extensive in its description of what a “team” is. This approach, however, risks omitting important elements and thus appearing inaccurate or unsatisfactory because it will always fall short of a complete description.
A comprehensive approach is doomed to failure before it is even attempted. Someone will always think of something that should have been added. It’s not that the definition is “wrong,” it is simply that no single definition can encompass all that a “team” is. More than likely it will simply reflect the writer’s bias, or their attempt to set themselves apart from other “team experts” by saying something unique about a team.
So why even make the attempt at a comprehensive definition of “team”? That is a question that team experts must answer for themselves.
As you will see in the next article the more comprehensive approaches to defining “team” are not “wrong” in what they say, it is simply not possible to be comprehensive in a statement about such a complex concept as “team.” A comprehensive approach to defining team will always leave out something that is important to someone.
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A simple definition of what a team is will provide a bare bones meaning without any frills. At its most basic level, then, a team is more than one person working together toward a common purpose. This is the backbone of what a “team” is. There is much more involve with understanding “team,” but the simple definitions leave that broader conversation for ongoing discussion.
A comprehensive approach is appealing in that it attempts a more complete presentation of team, but often at the risk of missing too much.
Regardless of how you choose to define team, one thing is certain. There is very little more powerful than an organized effective team of people working toward a common objective.
Take advantage of a team approach in your search for success and happiness. It can be—and usually is—the difference between success and failure. Think of ways you can begin to incorporate the concept of a team into your life, work, and play. You will be richer for it.