The Social Bonds of a Team

I’m sure that, somewhere out there, some popular business wisdom says that people get stagnant when they stay in the same core group too long. Maybe they’re supposed to start failing to come up with new ideas because they are stuck in the mode of groupthink. Maybe they’re too comfortable and complacent. Maybe well-bonded teams are supposedly full of self-promotion and cronyism.

There must be some business wisdom that says that, because it seems that reorganizations often target the cohesive teams as non-productive.

Here’s a different perspective: Teams are families. They have black sheep and dysfunctional members. However, they also find a way to survive despite the individual failings of each team member that would otherwise be somewhat insurmountable. Teams have an implicit loyalty and trust that bypasses the initial trust evaluation phase that occurs with a new relationship.

What if teams function as an extension of the neural networks that shape the individual members of the team? Just as a person who takes up tennis one year, then switches to piano, then cooking,  never becomes good at anything, teams that never build a cohesive unit never become good at anything.

Of course, reorganization itself doesn’t have to permanently break down team cohesiveness. New teams can form, just like people join new families. The danger occurs in the perpetual reorganization cycle, especially when team members have no real input about their interests. Such cycles have the same effect on team building that moving a child from foster home to foster home has on trust. Eventually, people just assume that any bonding effort will be wasted and quit bothering to try.