- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

A team is not a meeting. The best team is the one that does not need to meet. Almost.

A dangerous metastatic cancer in organizations ( no apologies for the strong language) is the equating of ‘team’ and ‘meeting’.

One of the most toxic practices in organisational life is equating ‘team’ and ‘team meeting’. You could start a true transformation by simply splitting them as far apart as you can and by switching on the team permanently. In a perfect team, ‘stuff happens’ all the time without the need to meet. Try the disruptive idea ‘Team 365’ to start a small revolution.

In our minds, the idea that teams are something to do with meetings is well embedded. And indeed, teams do meet… But ‘the meeting’ has become synonymous with ‘the team’. Think of the language we often use. If there is an issue or something that requires a decision and this is discussed amongst people who belong to a team, we often hear things such as, “let’s bring it to the team”. In fact, what people mean really is, “let’s bring it to the meeting. Put it on the agenda.” By default, we have progressively concentrated most of the ‘team time’ in ‘meeting time’. The conceptual borders of these two very different things have become blurred. We have created a culture where team equals meetings equals team. And this is disastrous.

As a consequence of the mental model and practice that reads ‘teams = meeting = teams’, the team member merely becomes an event traveller (from a few doors down or another country?). These team travellers bring packaged information, all prepared for the disclosure or discussion at ‘the event’.

Once the package is delivered, the information downloaded and the decision made (if lucky), the concept of team membership and its intensity fade. The sense of belonging has been hijacked by the meeting itself. And so, after the meeting, there is a void, waiting to be filled by the next call for items for the next agenda.

Imagine now the opposite scenario, where the concept of membership is one of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And that this is when ‘the real stuff happens’, not at the meetings!

In ‘team 365’ mode, the meeting is an occasional event, something that happens when needed. It’s not the centre of activity for the team. Instead, the emphasis is on the team as a continuous collaboration structure. The meeting is merely a device for occasional needs. Literally, Team 365 is always meeting, so it doesn’t really need to meet. Well, almost.

PS for those on the ‘of course the team is more than the meeting’, do a friendly health check of what happens in real life.

(from Disruptive Ideas, book [1], and Accelerator [2])