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A team is not a team unless it knows why itís a team. Teamsaccording to Jon Katzenbach* are "small groups of people withcomplementary skills committed to a common purpose, approach,and performance goa...

A team is not a team unless it knows why itís a team. Teams
according to Jon Katzenbach* are "small groups of people with
complementary skills committed to a common purpose, approach,
and performance goals for which they hold themselves mutually
accountable". The first thing that small group of people has to
do is to establish that common purpose.

A team purpose is usually shaped in response to a request,
opportunity or demand from management. If you ARE management,
then your purpose as a team may be more urgent, more open-ended,
and more difficult to capture. The parameters of a team purpose
are usually framed by the performance requirement of the
company. If you are a peanut-dicer maker, your team will likely
have a mission statement that will enhance production, market or
function of peanut-dicers. Pinpointing the mission is essential.
Only then can every team member focus clearly.

Clear statement of purpose establishes the character, rationale
and performance challenges for the team, but allows for
creativity and 'wiggle room' for the team to set specific goals,
timing and approach. Most teams do not spend sufficient time
defining their purpose. It is somehow assumed that everyone
knows it! Take, for example, the software development industry.
They are known for the "Fire, Ready, Aim" approach to creating
software. There is even a cartoon that shows a project manager
telling his team, "You go upstairs and start writing code. I'll
go and find out what they want it to do!" On a more serious
note, research shows that much time, energy and money is saved
in the technology industry by working groups and teams that take
the time to explore and clarify their requirements. In fact,
statistics suggest that spending at least 40% of the project
time is efficient and effective! Compelling information, isn't

An example closer to home would be how you use goal-setting in
your own life. Do you have a fuzzy goal such as "I want to be
healthier"? Unless you know clearly that you want to have more
energy, be stronger, more flexible and resilient, and cough
less, you will not be focused enough to find solutions that
match your goals. "I want to be healthier" is the impetus for
creating the mission statement. In the same way, "We need more
profit" is the impetus for creating the team. Then the team goes
to work!

Sometimes a team mission statement is straightforward, for
example, to recommend the best solution to a specific problem
and little time is required for all to understand the mission.
Team members can immediately develop their approach and
performance goals. Other times, teams have a fuzzy idea about
why they have been brought together and need to make delineating
that the first order of business.

Teams run things, recommend things or make and do things. Every
member needs to know the purpose of the teamScience Articles, and needs to be
able to state it in twenty words or less. How is your team

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