Saturday, November 13, 2010

Teams and networks are different


The team concept is often used very vaguely. A useful definition to consider team-issues consistently is as follows: "A team is a group of individuals appointed from one or more organizations that works together for achieving a common purpose. The team operates by self-managing selection, design and implementation the necessary tools and means it needs for achieving its intended purpose.” 

This definition includes three basic characteristics of a team:

  1. The team consists of certain named persons.
  2. The team has its own clearly defined purpose. 
  3. The team works through self-management. 

These aspects do not yet fully define the essence of a team. Teams may differ greatly between different organizations or even within the same organization. However, all groups within a specific project or work-task are not necessarily teams.

Genuine, effective and efficient team work has the following characteristics:

  • The team purpose and goal are common to all team members and known by everybody of them. 
  • The atmosphere in a team work is based on trust and transparency – team work is full of joy.
  • Communication and exchange of information in a team is effective.
  • Everyone feels the genuine team cohesion.
  • Diversity is appreciated in teams.
  • Team members are encouraged to creativity and risk-taking, and a team is capable to fix or improve its working procedures.
  • Team members feel a need for each other and each other's skills to achieve the common goal. 
  • Decision-making and leadership are based on consensus - every team member is a resource.


A network may be defined as ”a group of interconnected independent individuals or other actors who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes”.

In all networks there are knots and links. Relationship is the most significant issue.

There are networks everywhere:

  • Biological nature
  • Physics and chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Human aggregations
  • Business communities
  • Economy
  • Technics
  • Societies

Genuine business networks are primarily unplanned, emergent aggregations. Their growth is sporadic and self-organizing. An actor’s role can be characterized by centrality in the network: Activity, Betweenness, and Closeness. Networks may not be managed in a traditional way like organizations because they are not any single systems. E.g. networks may not have shared values, strategies, etc.

The network as a whole is managed by nobody but each actor has its own characteristic impact in the network:

  • Access = actor’s easiness getting to the resources of the network
  • Reach = actor’s potential wielding influence in the network
  • Control = actor’s ability to control over the resources of the network


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