What is a Team?


The history of humankind is the story of teamwork. The defining characteristic of Homo sapiens has been our ability to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal; everything that is great and enduring has been achieved in teams. Moreover, almost everybody has experienced being part of a team that has achieved something they are proud of – something worthwhile that matters. But before we can understand teams, we need to be clear about how a team is different to other social groups? One practical definition is: “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”  

Jon Katzenbach & Douglas Smith, The Discipline of Teams  – And they went on to say: “You should teamwork when the output of your efforts will be qualitatively different following collaboration.

We call this a sociological team because to an observer it has all the characteristics of a team. But we cannot know if team members care about the team, if it means anything to them, if it is psychologically important. The biggest difference between ordinary and great teams is the psychological importance of the team to members.