Businessweek Archives

Flexible Teams


Business Exchange

No one individual has all the necessary talent, skills, resources, or time to do everything. Very often your staff will need to work in teams, if only temporarily, in order to get a job done and done well. The success of any team is built upon the group’s ability and agility to transform itself and shift its structure to fit the circumstances at hand. Participation encourages creativity and ownership of a project’s plan. Authority and clarity of roles enable the group to operate with speed and efficiency when executing the plan.

In organizations, groups can be arranged vertically and laterally to deal with the immediate task at hand and the environment. Finding the right structure for the circumstance is always challenging. It requires careful consideration of a number of situational variables, some of which may be ambiguous or hard to assess. In those cases, these questions may help:

What is the nature of the task?

What is the nature of the environment?

How can you clarify roles and relationships and coordinate efforts?

What are acceptable standards for completing the task?

How will individual and group rewards be identified and shared?

It isn’t easy to define the answers to these questions, but once you do, you will appreciate the strength, dexterity, and critical importance of your team.

Mallary Tytel

President and Founder

Healthy Workplaces

Sioux Falls, S.D.


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