Is the concept of “team” now defunct and is “teamwork” a thing of the past?

[Posted on behalf of Helena Moore]

I’ve been pondering something this weekend … Is the concept of “team” now defunct and is “teamwork” a thing of the past?

On Friday we held our all colleague event; the Bromford Bash. It’s a big deal for us, let me set the scene; 1150 delegates, we do all our own event management, the ICC in Birmingham, technically complicated with a range of AV, animation and live twitter feed, lots of colleagues presenting (imagine facing an audience of over 1000 people when it’s not your day job) and one of our customers up there too.

Now clock that professional and totally amazing, inspirational and lovely speaker, Tim Campbell, first winner of The Apprentice is there. Yes I have fallen a little bit in love with Tim as have most colleagues from Bromford… and I promise here in writing not to stalk him!  And the cherry on the top for good measure is the finale, ‘doing’ the UK’s biggest Harlem Shake led by our CEO …  Which could be the biggest ever tumble weed moment ever in the history of events if no one joins in. Phew they did   (check it out on You Tube here. You’ll see Mick our CEO is a great sport).

So it all went off on Friday (if you looked the link you’ll see I mean that literally!) Even better than I could have dreamed of. All the lead up paid off all the rehearsing, nagging, persuading, preparing. And whilst I could write a list of lots of people here … colleagues Alex Abbotts (who heads up our Comms team) and Tracy Cadwallader (who heads up our facilities team) deserve a special mention because they lead the teams of their own and other colleagues that created such an amazing ‘do’.

Over this weekend I’ve been reading all the Yammers and Tweets from our colleagues under the #bash2013 and it’s been humbling but also really amazing to feel all the luuurrve out there for the people who helped support and contribute to the event including the teams and people that organised the day.

But this has caused me a problem, I panic every time I read one that doesn’t mention both the Comms and Facilities teams. Frightened that one will get left out and feeling the need to compensate for it by reminding the poster that more than one team was involved. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof all week end checking out postings and trying to make sure every one in each team or person felt valued and recognised.

I started to think about two other things  – firstly one of our ‘F words’ here at Bromford is “department” we always refer to “teams”. Department to us indicates silos and we’ve not used this in our language for many years. Secondly  it took me back to a conversation I had with our CEO a few weeks ago about our meetings rooms. We have open plan offices here (absolutely no one has a private office) – we do have “team rooms” that any one can book and we labelled these up with a team name – “HR team room” “Finance team room” etc. Mick and I discussed that this was almost counter to what we are trying to achieve – sticking a territorial label on a room.

So as the concept of team becomes less defined with matrix management, cross team working, project groups internal and external contributors is the concept of “team” as we used to know it dead or at the very least changing. I started to think about a more apt replacement , what about “collaboration” it’s very vogue but hmmmm doesn’t seem to capture the energy and some how feels very formal and has the danger of getting on an unflattering list alongside  “running an idea up a flag pole and see who salutes it”, “pushing the envelop” “touching base” and “blue skies thinking”. What about “gang” .I still wasn’t sure. I took inspiration from my washing line – flapping away in the sunshine on my line was my T-shirt from Friday. Emblazoned on the back “CREW”. For me any way this seems the solution. Crews on ships change, are together for a purpose, have to work together no matter what rank or they could sink, some may move on after the voyage but find themselves together on a future trip.

So I dedicate this post as a tribute to special group of people. The Bromford bash 2013 Crew – you know who you are!

Helena Moore

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