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Team Dynamics In Dynamic Teams

By Art van Bodegraven | 07/13/2016 | 7:41 AM

From king to jester, from phenomenon to failure - what makes super-teams morph into junior varsity hopefuls? For openers, stability on a winning team is a bit of a fantasy. Stuff happens. Rock-steady contributors retire. Emerging stars jump ship for promises of riches on other ships fhat sail the same waters. Those who've gained valuable experience get promoted - or are used to anchor other, newer teams.

Whatever, small, nearly imperceptible, changes subtly erode the cohesion and balance that made the team nearly invincible at one point. For the leader, coach, point of the spear, the change(s) mean starting over in terms of team development and maturation.

The difference plays out more dramatically in the sporting arena. At the professional, e.g., NFL, NBA, NHL, levels, team is almost an oxymoron because the Lakers or whomever are not a collection of complementary skills, but an assemblage of independent performers motivated almost solely by self-interest. The coach, the leader on the field of play is hamstrung, as the original owner's unemployable nephew makes talent acquisitions based on salary caps and operating P&Ls

At the collegiate level, the parallels with general business and with supply chain management are more clear. But, show a little love and generosity to the beleaguered on-court/on-field leader. Every season, year after year, the coach(es) must find and sign new talent, at least as skilled as those who have departed, in the range of 25% of the total team. Then, the new players have to get integrated into the overall team, figuring out roles and relationships - go through all the stages of team development as drawn up by Bruce Tuckman.

That's how last year's 12-1 champion goes to 7-6 with supposedly better and more talent. And, that's how your unstoppable project machine breaks down under the weight of a superficially simple task.

Pay attention to this reality, and tread carefully around the hubris traps that litter the corporate landscape.

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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.



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