May 26, 2000

Team Development Case Model


This, obviously, is a fictitious case model.


NASA Ames Research Center astrophysicists have verified a massive comet on a 95-percent certain collision course with earth; strike time projected in 3.5 years. The President of the United States -- in an attempt to denationalize and depoliticize the process -- has asked our office to organize an international team of cross-institutional representatives from existing government and non-government bodies to develop a global strategy for assessing and addressing the relevant issues (e.g., defensive measures, public notification, evacuation and emergency preparations, doomsday scenarios).

To keep the preliminary data and efforts confidential as well as to help facilitate streamlined progress, the President has requested the team size not exceed 20 members, with the broadest representation possible within the constraints: developed and undeveloped nations, scientists, military strategists, sociologists, psychologists, theologians, etc.  Due to the urgent and global nature of the task, the team must function with a non-partisan and well-focused cohesion.

In consideration of the impeccable past performance of our office, the indisputable track record of our transnational successes, the unimpeachable integrity of our company management, we have been appointed as the team leader.

The initial and most crucial phase of the team assignment will be the team building process: Gathering "technically competent team members who inspire each other's respect and who are capable of implementing changes resulting from team building processes of goal-setting and operational/procedural changes." (Boss, 1995) 


Hackman (1991) provides "process criteria" and "organizational conditions" that are key to developing an effective team, including:


The team leader (us) will be responsible for establishing organizational conditions promoting team effectiveness including well-defined group structure, supportive organizational context with effective motivational and informational systems, and consistent expert coaching throughout the assignment. That's what we do -- that's why we were selected.


Once the selected group is assembled, an initial diagnosis will be performed assessing the teamwork dimensions of:




Boss (1995) proscribes requisites that must be met in successful team-building efforts, which we have capably addressed largely in the team selection process.


After an intensive orientation introducing the group members, defining operational procedures, and establishing the profound nature of the assignment, the Boss' requisites for successful team building should be thoroughly addressed, and the group primed to smoothly transition to effective team performance.


Seibold's (1995) steps in team building will contribute to the rapid development of team productivity:


  1. Create an agenda by categorizing problems facing the group (goals, roles, operations/procedures, and relationships).
  2. Use member involvement to resolve and improve operations and procedures.
  3. Revisit goals and help members create a shared vision.
  4. Help members consider role requirements emanating from their vision.
  5. Aid members to improve relationships within the team.


Harrington-Mackin (1994) proposes the following steps in "getting started" with team building, as well as issues we will need to address throughout the team assignment:





Zander (1994) contributes a number of strategies for increasing team success. In turn, these strategies provide an effective tool for evaluating the team's effectiveness throughout the assignment.

 Of course, the final indicator of a successful "team building" process will be in the value of the final product.





Boss, R.W. (1995). Comment: The challenge of building effective work groups. Journal of Management Inquiry, 4(2).


Hackman, J.R. (1991). Work teams in organizations: An orienting framework. In J.R. Hackman (Ed.), Groups that work (and those that dont): Creating conditions for effective teamwork. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Harrington-Mackin, D. (1994). The team building tool kit: Tips, tactics, and rules for effective workplace teams. New York: American Management Association.


Seibold, D.R. (1995). Developing the "team" in team-managed organization: Group facilitation in a new plant design. In L.R. Frey (Ed.), Innovations in group facilitation techniques: Case studies of applications in naturalistic settings. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.


Zander, A. (1994). Making groups effective, 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.