No more teams!: mastering the dynamics of creative collaboration

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Currency Doubleday, 1995 - Business & Economics - 241 pages
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For organizations that care about innovation, individual creativity isn't enough anymore -- people need to be in creative, collaborative relationships. But without the knowledge and tools for building these relationships, innovation expert Michael Schrage argues, one will not be successful in the offices of today and even less so in the "virtual" offices of tomorrow. "No More Teams" gives readers the tools and techniques to go beyond the lazy cliches of "teamwork" to the practical benefits of collaboration. When Schrage studied the world's greatest collaborations -- including Wozniak and Jobs, Picasso and Braque, Watson and Crick -- he found that instead of relying on charisma, they all created "shared spaces" where they could play with their ideas. By effectively using technological tools available in most workplaces -- anything from a felt tip pen and a napkin to specialized computer software - -you can literally map your discussion as it is happening, making it possible to keep all the good ideas, cope with every objection, handle conflicts as they arise, and, ultimately, master the unknown.

"Michael Schrage has written a magical book. Yes, it is 'about' the effects of new technologies on how we think, collaborate, organize, and solve problems. But it is much more, a pioneering exploration qf language and creation in the workplace, in the world." -- Tom Peters, author of "Thriving On Chaos"

To read author Michael Schrage's column in Hotwired's Packet click here

An excerpt:

Introduction

No More Teams!--An Organizational Manifesto

Why don&t teams make sense? What could possibly be wrong with more and better teamwork? In anideal world, absolutely nothing. But we don't live in an ideal world: we live in this one.

At a job interview, a friend was asked if he was a "team player."

"Yes, " he replied, "team captain." That story--which happens to be true--invariably gets a good laugh. But it is a cynical and knowing laugh. Everyone in the room understands precisely what most organizations mean by "team players."

Quite simply, the word team has been so politicized, so ensnared in the pathology of the organization, that we don't really know what it means anymore. Is a team a medium to manage value? Or a mechanism to play politics? It's easy to answer "Both." Of course, in that case, a team means whatever the organization wants it to mean. Which means, of course, that it has no real meaning at all. It is, however, the popular management metaphor of the moment. But is it the right metaphor? Is it a metaphor we should be building-- and rebuilding--our organizations around? Does this metaphor create more understanding than confusion?

The answer to all these questions, unfortunately, is no. The concept of teams obscures, rather than reveals, the real relationship challenges our organizations face. Teams are a fiction, a verbal convenience, rather than a useful description of how people in a firm cooperate and collaborate to create value. Even worse, teams make it too easy for organizations to lie, cheat, and kid themselves about the way they work. More often than not, a "team" is as much a political entity as a value creating one. The word is a little too flexible, too malleable, too manipulable.

Are you on the team? . . . Or not? Is that a question centered on creatingvalue for customers and clients or is it meant to satisfy the insecurities of a manager checking on the loyalty of his people?

The answers reveal an awful lot about what "teamwork" and "team players" really mean in today's organizations--and tomorrow's. "No More Teams!" is a book that insists that organizations literally can't afford to design themselves around words that are dangerously ambiguous. The issue isn't teams; it's what kind of relationships organizations need to create and maintain if they want to deliver unique value to their customers and clients. That's what this book is about.

"No More Teams!" is the revised, updated, and improved version of "Shared Minds: The New Technologies of Collaboration." The change of title is only the most obvious difference. In fact, this is a fundamentally different and better book than its predecessor. It's crisper, smarter, and more relevant for managers. The book's ideas have been sharpened and honed by a marketplace that cares far more for results than for academic cleverness. The essential themes of shared creation, collaborative tools, and productive relationships have become even more significant. Organizations whose futures depend on intelligent innovation will find the messages here just as provocative but even more practical.

To be sure, I had learned and observed a great deal about c

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Contents

Why Collaboration Now?
1
Transmission Failures and Media Mythunderstandings
15
Collaboration
26
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Schrage is a research associate at the MIT Media Lab, a Merrill Lynch Forum Innovation Fellow, and a columnist for FORTUNE magazine.

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