Is it a team? Or is it a club?

This week’s Weekly Inspection takes a look at team structure.

Teams are the atomic unit of value in an agile environment. Stable, high performing teams deliver more value than resource pools. Many organizations are restructuring toward the team concept, but when I’m onsite with a customer and I see what they’ve created, I see more clubs than teams.

When you’re on a team, you’re only on that team. All of your activities are centered around the success of the team. LeBron James is only on the Cavaliers. When he became a Cav, he ended his team membership on the Heat.

You can be in a lot of clubs, and you can choose your level of participation in each club. As Brian Johnson from The Breakfast Club said, “I’m in the math club, the Latin, and the physics club.”

When I visit organizations and ask about team structure, I hear things like, “Steve is on team one and two, and Beth is shared across all four teams.” Yes, creating teams with limited resources is difficult, and easing up on the strictness of team membership seems like the right compromise, but consider:

  • Shared team members don’t have the same level of commitment as those who are dedicated to the team, which tends to result in lower productivity.
  • Team members who are not dedicated to the team cannot be accountable to the team, which tends to eat into a team’s ability to meet its commitments.
  • Teams rely on consistent capacity to forecast. When some team members participate at varying levels, forecasting tens to be unreliable.


Take a look at the structure of your teams. If productivity and commitment are still an issue, it may be because you’re treating your teams more like clubs. How can you convert your club members into team members?

Want to contribute to The Weekly Inspection? Let’s connect at @johnkrewson.

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