We need teams to do critical stuff in the organisation.

So, throw some good people together, and there you go. (I’m not dreaming this up – an OD practitioner in a large corporation told me that this is what their leaders habitually do.) They’re professionals, they’ll quickly get their acts together and start delivering results.

Craig loves to ask the question, “And how has that been working out for you?”


Most of the time it doesn’t work, no matter how good your people.

Says Charl Cuyler from MTN, “It’s about the organisational culture”. If you do not have a team culture in the organisation, good people will be good people, but most of the time they will not come together into “high-performance teams”.

In our research last year, Kyra met an organisation where people mostly do come together into good teams.

What’s the difference?

The culture, of course.

Culture is the result of leadership, strategy and design. The culture will predictably produce great teams if leadership values team work, if teams are critical to executing the strategy of the organisation, and if we design the organisation to support team performance.

Take one design element: performance management. In the organisation that successfully creates teams, the entire performance bonus depends on team performance. So many organisations claim that teams are critical to their success, but individual KPIs structure all work and development efforts in the organisation.

Take leadership: do you consider team development investment only when it’s a choice between recuing a team and disbanding it?

Are teams important to the success of your organisation? Would team development capability provide you with a strategic differentiator?

So what’s the problem with team performance? Yes, team dynamics, and all that stuff. But the real issue is whether you really consider teams to be important to your success, or not, and act accordingly.