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Trail Markers Mile 1: Teaming

Updated: Mar 3

Welcome to Trail markers
a learning series that stimulates thought and promotes action.


Mile 1 explores Teaming—a way to approach how people come together to get work done that combines proven methods with new applications. We’re deeply curious about the rising importance of teams that can evolve and thrive in today’s workplace. In this series we invite you to join us as we pursue that curiosity and get a little smarter in the process.


What Is Teaming?


In her TED talk How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Team, Harvard Business School professor Amy C. Edmondson defines teaming as “…teamwork on the fly. It's coordinating and collaborating with people across boundaries of all kinds—expertise, distance, time zone, you name it—to get work done.”

While teaming complements team effectiveness models like GRPI, FNSP, and T7, it’s not a model itself. Rather, it’s a mindset and practice that depends upon a culture of curiosity, humility, and psychological safety.


Teaming looks beyond traditional, stable, long-term teams that have fixed roles and deliverables. Instead, teaming embraces the ability to leverage diverse skill sets as needed to do what needs to be done—and being willing to do things that haven’t been done before.


Why Should We Care?


Opportunities to learn at work have primarily been made available to aspiring or current people leaders. Leadership development is estimated to be a $366 billion global industry. Yet more and more, stakeholders are questioning the return on that investment.


Rather than continuing to direct development resources to one part of a dynamic workforce, businesses are shifting their attention to the broader system in which those people operate: teams.


Even before COVID darkened our doorways, Deloitte was monitoring a global trend underway toward team-based organizations that seemed to be generating “a more effective model for operating in dynamic, unpredictable business environments.” Dynamic? Unpredictable? Yep - that about sums up the new norm. Which makes understanding and cultivating the potential rewards of teaming all the more important in today’s workplace.


Are You Hearing What We’re Hearing?


Obviously, the industry watchdogs are signaling that teaming might matter more than we thought. But for our team, what’s really motivated us to slow down and listen up are the signals coming from our clients.

In recent months, more and more of our clients have been asking us: What do you know about teaming? When we probe as to why they’re asking, we’re hearing things like:

  • Our employees are struggling against the pandemic backdrop to build and belong in workplace communities. How might their team become a safe space?

  • Our leaders are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the primary driver of team success. How might they share accountability with their team members?

  • Our talent partners are fielding more and more requests to help teams in need. How might we address this increased demand?

  • Our organizational dynamics are highlighting fractures in how people come together to get work done in meaningful and productive ways. How might we more intentionally design effective ways of working within and across teams?

Are you hearing similar rumblings in your organization? If so, let’s explore what’s happening together.


What’s Ahead?


Over the next few months, this series will focus on three aspects of teaming, along with suggestions for how you might put ideas into practice.

  1. In Strategy: Making the Shift to Teaming, we’ll focus on what a team-based organization might look like and the shifts that need to occur to make that vision a reality.

  2. In Design: Creating Experiences that Empower Teaming, we’ll share a multi-year journey we’ve been on with one of our clients to help their teams incorporate curiosity, humility, and psychological safety into their ways of working

  3. In Impact: How Teaming Impacts Performance, we’ll consider what data best tells the story of how effective teaming influences individual and organizational performance and noodle on ways in which to constructively engage with stakeholders around that data.


In the Meantime…


If teaming piques your interest, here are a few of our favorite resources:



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