Team Synergy

The reason to foster teams is to create team synergy. Because synergy is what differentiates a team from a group.

It is important to recognize the difference between teams and groups. A group simply consists of people collected together at some time and place. The people in a group may or may not be related, for example, familial, professional or common interest groups. They may or may not share a common goal. They may or may not work together or work for a common enterprise. A group may or may not cooperate or collaborate. In fact, a group of people employed in a common enterprise or project may need to work together but never form an effective team. It is a major reason that  so-called 'project teams' fail.

While the team’s goals vary according to what they want to achieve, the reason to have teams is to create team synergy! This team synergy between the team members allows a team to achieve a total result that is greater than the sum of the individual contributions. A great way to promote and achieve team synergy is using the STARS TIMEWhirlpool.

STARS team synergy is seen through their high level of cooperation, collaboration, commitment and consensus (the 4 C’s). The 4 C’s lead to a team ‘can do’ mentality and a higher level of achievement than individuals can achieve.

The individuals in a team exhibit a unity of purpose; a way of consensual thinking, cooperating and collaborating that appears uncanny. One person in the team may do something for another team member without communication at the time it is needed and not sooner or too late. The apparent lack of communication makes it appear uncanny – as if one person can sense the desires of their teammate.

The synergy created within a STARS team is seen in the following ways (Synergy Characteristics):

  • Team members support each other willingly.
  • Team Members learn to respect and enjoy each other's company
  • Team member trust each other.
  • Team members freely debate and contribute to goal setting and planning.
  • Critical debate and criticism are constructive and aimed to achieve consensus.
  • Team members display a high level of commitment.    
  • Team members need reduced communication! 
  • Teams rarely, if ever, have endless meetings.
  • Team members share a responsibility for and commitment to achieve goals, plans and tasks.
  • Team members interact freely as and when needed.
  • Team members share and delegate authority with little or no negative politics.
  • Any team member can act as the leader of the team

This last point is called dynamic leadership in teams. The leader depends on the situation and needs at a particular time. They usually act as a servant leader, who assists others achieve their goals. The Agile leadership role depends upon the situation, for example, a technical aspect may designate a need for one person to direct the others, or the experience and skills of different people may dictate who leads in different situations.

In my coaching to Agile and Scrum projects that have often implemented Scrum on their owm, and particularly at the request of a project manager or other manager, I often see people implementing the mechanics (the Scrum practices) but not the spirit of Scrum. As a Scrum master coach, I use STARS team theme to show the Scrum team members how to change their failing implementation. When I train and coach a new Scrum team from the start, the problem never occurs.

To learn more, pick up a copy of Reach for the STARS: Agile Leadership and Beyond at Amazon.