(Cartoon via Jayson Joseph Chacko)
In Ghana I once did a casestudy of a multi-cultural team with difficulties. I discovered a lot of emotions underneath the surface of collaboration, working together and team meetings. Lots of misunderstandings. Lots of unspoken and untested ideas. I thought I could relate this team's functioning with the outcomes of the team's work, which weren't always impressive.
Recently I had two experiences of teams that were having similar difficulties. I was part of a Dutch team organising a conference. I was not part of the second team but was helping them in their work. For both teams, I felt the teams were not doing well in terms of teamwork, not leveraging the individual strengths of its members, and not able to work through the important differences in opinion about the work and the working modalities. In both cases individual team members held underlying assumptions that were not discussed, due to time constraints. (this ofcourse means not prioritising this).
To my surprise, however, (and contrary to my beliefs) both teams produced quite good results. The team I was part of did a learning history. The learning history showed me that I still had some strong frustrations about the team process, but because of the good result (the conference) I can live with it. The other team is going downwards in its performance. Combining both experiences, I now feel that it is possible to be opportunistic, focus on the end result and live with a suboptimal teamprocess. However, in the long run, you do need to address the emotions of the teammembers to be able to function well as a team over a longer period of time.