Taken from my forthcoming book: Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. Read NEW extract Chapter 1 part 2 
Imagine that any new team comes with a ‘sell-by-date’. A label that says: ‘This meeting will disband, no matter what, on 12th December’. The team has an initial formation date but also an end date.
One of the problems many organizations have is that they create structures, such as teams, with the hope of providing a platform for collaboration, but these structures are open-ended. There is no sense of when the team will cease to be. Rationally, you would think that this is when objectives have been achieved. However, these objectives may be long term and vague, full of more concrete, short term milestones. Teams tend to drag on in existence. We put time limits on external contracts but rarely on internal ones.
You’ll have many reasons to see this as nonsense. If the team is at its peak performance, do I mean it disbands anyway? Yes, I do. If there is still obvious work to be done, do I disband? Yes, you do. ‘This is crazy!’ Why?
You can make any provisions you want for a second team to take over (yes, you can share previous membership, perhaps part of it) but you must declare the team finished, celebrate, and start a new team with another ‘sell-by-date’ the following day.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for a change in leadership, a review of lessons learned, a membership swap, a knowledge transfer that needs to be ensured (because the crew changes) versus languid knowledge, only reliable in its documented form. Perhaps you can have some new crew members shadowing old team members for a few days or weeks.
After counting the reasons why ‘this will never work’, imagine the benefits of a constantly renewed team structure. If your main concern is ‘disruption’ and ‘instability’, I agree with you. This is precisely what it creates, by design.
See the other side: complacency is gone, knowledge transfer opportunities are high, professional development broad, people’s minds are fixed on delivery.
Our organizations have become teamocracies with a life of their own. The team is a vehicle, not an end unto itself. Sell-by-dates will restore some sense of focus.
Look out for my forthcoming book….
Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road
A collection of notes on leadership, initially written as Daily Thoughts. Camino, the Spanish for road, or way, reflects on leadership as a praxis that continuously evolves. Nobody is ever a leader. Becoming one is the real quest. But we never reach the destination. Our character is constantly shaped by places and journeys, encounters and experiences. The only real theory of leadership is travelling. The only footprints, our actions. The only test, what we leave behind.
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Good leaders are good path makers. For me, a leader is the cartographer in chief who, whilst walking with others, also becomes an architect and a builder. If this is about journeys, and maps, and building, then there is almost no end to it.
On my imaginary journey inside my head, I took notes and articulated ideas. Most became my Daily Thoughts, a blog I have been running for years. This book is a collection of those notes. Don’t look for Harvard here, there are only harbours and other places that have generously adopted the content between them.
In this Camino (road in Spanish) of mine, I have also learnt to spot the real things, the fundamentals, the rocks. This is a collection of warnings, strong views and discoveries that I do not intend to be transferable. After all, the journey is not transferable, nobody can walk the Camino for you. Liberated by the idea that I don’t need to impart universal wisdom to end in a sterile case study and that I can share these notes and ideas, like one shares a meal without having to explain the chemistry of the ingredients, they are here in this book, still full of dust from my journey. The one I have only just begun.