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Building a team is managing interactions

I like to look at a company as a team or, as Stanley McChrystal puts it, a “Team of Teams”. In a consulting company, without a team, there isn’t much left. However, when we look at traditional consulting conglomerates, we perceive a focus on consultant expertise. In this conservative perspective a team is set up for a client by collecting the most suited consultants for the project. Yet, this can be short-sighted.

To select the adequate team you must, as a leader, look at interactions. The team is not the people per se but the interactions between. So, when you’re leading a team, you should manage interactions. Start by one-to-one interactions. In the left side of the figure below you can find three one-to-one relations (team of 3 example: I1, I2, I3). These are the first team relations to address. After the foundational one-to-one cooperation then you should move to more complex ground: managing the team interactions (I4). Team collaboration is not the sum of the one-to-one relations you managed to built. On the other hand, it’s the all-as-one dynamics (I4) that is the sum of one-to-one interactions (I1+I2+I3) leveraged by a multiplier factor: a common purpose.

Figure 1 – Interactions between a team of 3.

In order to decide a winning team for a project you must acknowledge that it is more complex than it seems.