Teamicide is the act of purposefully disbanding a team after they are done with a task or project. While this may not sound particularly negative at first glance, an organization loses the benefit of achieving team productivity and team cohesion each time they disband a team. When team’s form, they take time to gel as a team. This is an organizational investment that often isn't realized.
The next question is, why does management disband teams? Do they not understand the harm they are doing to their organization when they disband teams? Do they not respect the benefits of a performing team? Or maybe they apply a move the team to the work method, when they really should be applying a move work to the team method. Exploring the “move team to the work” method, this may occur because either there is a “form a team around a project” mindset or there is a belief that teams don’t have all of the skills or disciplines needed to handle the new types of work.
The shape of a lightening bolt has one spike going deep (primary skill) and at least 2 additional spikes of lessor depth (secondary and tertiary). The purpose of having various depths of skills is for the team to be able to handle a broad range of work and for team members to be able to step up and fill gaps that other team members may not have or need help with. Note: some have used the term “T-shaped” teams, but I find that the lightning bolt shape is more apropos to the several spikes of skills and the various depths that are needed.
To create a lightning bolt shaped team, takes an investment in education. This takes a commitment to educate each team member in both a secondary and tertiary skill. As an example, let’s say that a developer has a primary skill of programming code. As a secondary skill, they can also learn how to build database schemas and as a tertiary skill, they can write unit tests and run test cases. The long-term benefit is that if the team members can develop additional skills, there is a greater likelihood that a team can work on a much wider range of work and then they can be kept together allowing the organization to gain the benefits of a high performing team. This can reduce teamicide and increase the organization’s ability to produce more high quality product.
Have you seen teamicide occurring in your organization? Have you seen the benefit of allowing a team to remain together long enough to become a high performing team? If so, what level of skills were or are prevalent on the team?
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