Fast team concepts are being studied by executives to prepare companies for post recession market shifts.  It is thought that fast teams will contribute to corporate agility in the face of rapid market shifts.  What could possibly go wrong? Read more.

Corporate agility is one of the concepts executives are studying now to address consumer demand in post recession markets.  But as the leaders of large hierarchies and internally competitive cultures learned in the late 1980’s and 90’s, throwing a team concept into non team cultures cause confusion.  And, with the confusion comes lost productivity during a time when corporate agility is everything.

Innovative team based companies with congruent cultures know that a few well chosen and trained people can create extraordinary results.  They know that there is no need to grow a large company to drive massive profits.  Instead, a small company can sprint circles around a confused giant and snatch hunks of market share.

Therefore, what could possibly go wrong with a fast team concept for a company to stumble and slow?

First, companies are pulling back on employee training when they should be investing more to build team capacity that will align with new business strategies, systems and values demands.

Second, quick adaptation to rapid market change will rely on how fast an organization can pull together the key skills required to tackle a new problem.

Under current market conditions, many companies with competitive cultures have resorted to short term cost cutting strategies such as head count reduction to deal with reduced sales.  Only now are many of them experiencing magnified productivity losses because of imbalances in business strategies not aligning with systems and workforce readiness.  Likewise they are not demonstrating the values needed to build high performance teams.

For example, trust, a collaborative value necessary for team building, worker morale, problem solving, information sharing, learning, and creativity, is for some at an all time low.  Once the market turns around, it will be interesting to see if the most talented employees will abandon ship for better opportunities.

Contrast this with team cultures such as Toyota.  These cultures have resisted head count reduction in favor of other cost cutting measure to protect collaborative team values such as trust.  Likewise, they have retained a workforce that is in alignment with their systems and strategies.  These companies are better poised to respond to new opportunities with a loyal workforce.

Third, few internally competitive companies are structured to compensate teams for extraordinary gains.  Instead, they bonus managers for unit gains, which confuses collaborative achievement with competitive rewards.

Compare this with a team culture that compensates team achievement and pay for knowledge performance.  New teams can be assembled in a moments notice to deal with new problems and trends because both skill and rewards are aligned.

Given this, there are still many organizations that don’t have strategies, systems, values and workforce readiness aligned.  They lack both capacity and capability. And, they are destined to go slow in a changing business climate that historically rewards the fastest and fittest.