Book | 2012

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy

by Amy C. Edmondson

Abstract

Continuous improvement, understanding complex systems, and promoting innovation are all part of the landscape of learning challenges today's companies face. I show that organizations thrive, or fail to thrive, based on how well the small groups within those organizations work. In most organizations, the work that produces value for customers is carried out by teams, and increasingly, by flexible team-like entities. The pace of change and the fluidity of most work structures mean that it's not really about creating effective teams anymore, but instead about leading effective teaming. 'Teaming' shows that organizations learn when the flexible, fluid collaborations they encompass are able to learn. The problem is teams, and other dynamic groups, don't learn naturally. I outline the factors that prevent them from doing so, such as interpersonal fear, irrational beliefs about failure, groupthink, problematic power dynamics, and information hoarding. With 'Teaming,' leaders can shape these factors by encouraging reflection, creating psychological safety, and overcoming defensive interpersonal dynamics that inhibit the sharing of ideas. Further, they can use practical management strategies to help organizations realize the benefits inherent in both success and failure. Based on years of research, this book shows how leaders can make organizational learning happen by building teams that learn.

Keywords: Change; Interpersonal Communication; Learning; Values and Beliefs; Innovation and Invention; Management; Performance Improvement; Groups and Teams; Research; Strategy; Complexity; Value;