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  • No More Teams
  • Written by Michael Schrage
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385476034
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No More Teams

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

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.

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 an  ideal 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 creating value 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 collaboration and collaborative media.  Yes, I had studied successful collaboration in a  variety of fields and had invested months in the  people who had made them work. But I hadn't really  brought the collaborative concepts and techniques  I had identified to business organizations  struggling for better ways to create value. I had  observed more than I had participated.

Since  the book was published, I have had the  opportunity to participate as well as observe. At one  global professional services firm, we helped build  networks that were really more like worknets--a  medium for collaboration, not just communication; a  virtual environment where shared creation is more  valued than mere information exchange. At another  professional services firm, we turned an on-line  information service into a medium to better  manage client relationships. At a financial services  firm, we crafted software that made it easier for  financial advisers and their clients to  collaboratively craft their investment portfolios. In each  case, my book offered a design sensibility that  sparked the kinds of conversations that got people  to experiment with innovation. I had the  opportunity to help turn those experiments into everyday  practice. The book brought me to organizations  around the country and around the world. People  inspired by the notion that managing creative  relationships could matter more than managing creative  individuals wanted to talk about their  concerns.

Excerpted  from No More Teams! by Michael  Schrage. Copyright (c)1989 by Michael Schrage.  Excerpted by permission of Doubleday Currency, a  division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group,  Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt  may be reproduced or reprinted without permission  in writing from the publisher.
Praise

Praise

"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

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