One key distinctive informing our work is the importance for teams to effectively balance task and maintenance.  Simply stated, task focuses on the work, product, or objective of the team while maintenance focuses on the design and implementation of effective strategies and processes that will facilitate the work of the group.  

A second key distinctive is the importance of shared learning for teams.  I believe that the primary function of any team is to engage in shared learning, to leverage the diverse experience and knowledge of the members. Teams that are not learning together are missing the primary value of collaboration.

Too often teams form and quickly begin to engage what they believe to be the work before them.  If they do not slow down sufficiently to clarify how they will do the work, the lack of clarity will begin to compromise the effectiveness of the group.  Expectations are not met, and trust begins to come into question.  This is a pattern that I have observed time and time again. At the heart of much of conflict are unclear and/or unmet expectations.

Effective teaming and collaboration do not just happen but are the result of intentional upfront work by the group.  To that end we have identified several conversations for teams who are entering into collaborative initiatives.  

  1. What is our Purpose or Goal?
  2. What are our Roles and Responsibilities related to this purpose?
  3. What are our Shared Expectations of each other as we pursue this mutual purpose?
  4. How are we Internally Organized to get the work done?
  5. What Language do we need to clarify as we merge our diverse organizations and cultures?
  6. What core Values inform our work?
  7. How are we Externally Connected to our stakeholders and other doing work related to our initiative?

In many cases it makes sense to have a conversation about how you are going to do the work before you start the work.