Teamwork the Dreamwork
The dictionary definition of teamwork is “Cooperation between those who are working on a task”. But for me, it means something more than just that. Something more because when being in this world together, we need everyone to make a change. Every one of us can perform teamwork in one way or another. To achieve something much bigger that can’t be achieved alone. Humans can help each other in many ways, so the possibilities of teamwork are endless.
Team and teamwork as words are broad and can be interpreted in many ways so that it is difficult to catalog them as something specific. Teamwork doesn’t have to be a group gathering in a closed room. But something we face in everyday life. Teamwork can be from preparing food at home with family to helping someone in the supermarket with their groceries. Two people are enough to form a team and when performing a task, they are performing teamwork. The key to teamwork is that the goal resulting from the task is common between both members.
The advantages of a team of two
Communicating and agreeing on a team with only two people is much easier. Smaller teams also tend to produce more per capita according to the two-pizza rule by Jeff Bezos. This rule consists of two pizzas being able to feed the people taking part in a meeting. This amount is about 5-8 people according to Bezos.
Having a person that complements your talents is referred to as having a “dynamic duo”. There are many of these “Dynamic duos” in recent history. Names like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with their computing breakthrough. Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg in building the core of social media. And many others who have come up with achievements in a two membered team.
It is good to keep in mind that good working-pairs are not only made by intuition and compatibility. This is one thing that mislead people when making pairs. Usually, the best work pairs are being formed by unexpected variables that end up making the thing work. Forcing work pairs is usually not the way to go as the best ones get formed naturally.
For managers Karlgaard and Monroe these are 10 points to consider when creating dynamic duos. These points can be also used when forming teams with a larger number of participants.
It is good to know how to work in a two-person team in order to work in a bigger team. I have noticed that working in smaller teams helps me with getting work done, as it is easier to communicate inside a team with fewer people. It is said in this article that there are various benefits in working in a smaller team to avoid groupthink and social loafing which are said to be innovation killers inside a team.
Social loafing means that people from the team reduce their effort inside a team based on the feeling of being less important for the outcome. Groupthink that instead of critical evaluation the team goes forward with the general flow of the team. Groupthink is much more likely going to happen in larger teams according to Bezos.
More effective communication, greater trust and less fear of failure are among the benefits of smaller teamwork groups according to J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University. “Big teams usually wind up just wasting everybody’s time” says Hackman.
When I first started on writing about teamwork, I had a predetermined idea. This idea was based on the idea of “the bigger the better”. Then I proceeded on reading about teamwork and came against two membered teams and the benefits of these compared to bigger over ten people teams. Now I can see the benefits of small teams and why it is on some occasions better to work in a small team. When controlling the dynamic of small teams, it is easier to work in a team with more members.
(Pairing up: the advantages of a team of two at work, Laura Stack, 2015)
(The two-pizza approach to productive teamwork, Rachel Gillet, 2014)
The happy manager, What is teamwork, Read 27.4.2022)