I’ve been thinking about teamwork a lot lately. Here are examples of my recent experiences:
- One of the courses I taught this semester has a teamwork component (I know, I’m such a MEAN professor), and while some students had a blast others didn’t. It’s a shame when one bad apple can spoil the opportunity to learn — and to have fun!
- I’m developing (and likely teaching) an online course on teamwork for Thomas Edison State College and as my course proposal was being reviewed, many reviewers suggested that the course should definitely address how technology affects teams. (They clearly don’t know me very well.) Obviously, I wholeheartedly agreed.
- I’m a member of Slack team created by Rands in Repose devoted to discussing leadership. It’s oozing with great conversations (bordering on an overwhelming amount) about many leadership topics, including teamwork. And the whole community is an example of grass roots teamwork in action. Case in point: The Boston-area contingent formed a sub-group and we meet up in-person regularly. The advice I’ve gotten from this group is priceless.
What do these three experiences have in common? They all point to areas for development in teamwork.
Area #1: Educators need to do a better job showing students the value of teamwork skills. If students truly “got” how important teamwork is, they may be less resistant. Bring in folks from the “real world” to show students what it’s like when teams succeed — and fail. And create teamwork projects that mimic real life. Throw that rubric out the window and encourage experimentation and failure. Students need that.
Area #2: We need to learn more about how technology affects teamwork. We need real #’s based on sound science. Researchers — how about a study on how chat tools like Slack affect team communication? Academics often resist studying specific, trendy tools, but in case you haven’t heard, Slack is kind of a big deal.
Area #3: We all need to realize that some of the best teams occur organically and are self-managed. For them, don’t over-manage. Just sit back and let the magic happen.
So yeah, teamwork needs an upgrade.
And I intend to help make that happen.
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