Imagine that any new team comes with a ‘sell-by date’. A label that says: ‘This meeting with disband, no matter what, on the 12 of 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 non-sense. If the team is at its peak performance, do I mean it disbands any way? 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 concerned 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 onto itself. Sell-by dates will restore some sense of focus.
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