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How cohesive teams increase performance and agility

In Part 2 of our new insights series, we look at how T-shaped skill profiles are key to building fast-paced, cohesive innovation teams where people understand each other.

22/11/2021
November 22, 2021
-
2
min read

Over the past 18 months, we’ve gone from helping our clients adapt and respond to disruptive forces, to being thrust head-on into that disruption ourselves. Navigating change and uncertainty is always challenging, but this period of intense, accelerated learning revealed the five qualities we believe are essential when establishing any digital innovation partnership. In this insights series, we look at those qualities one by one.

As any company knows, putting together a group of people with all the skills needed doesn’t necessarily make them a team, and certainly not a fast-paced team. Too many generalists, and the team lacks crucial skills and expertise to drive results fast. Too many specialists who are experts on a single area, and the knowledge gaps mean a team literally doesn’t speak the same language. 

When you’re choosing a digital innovation partner, you want to be sure that their teams are efficient and effective, and are poised for success. So what do you need to look out for?


T-shaped skill profiles combine deep expertise with a wide knowledge and experience base

Creating fast-paced impact or dealing with unexpected challenges is impossible if a team can’t collaborate well. And one common blocking factor is simply a lack of understanding and consideration, where individual team members have little knowledge of areas outside their own expertise. 

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Developing T-shaped profiles is an effective way to elevate a team’s collective understanding, and at the same time boost both professional and personal development – these profiles are subject-matter experts in at least one core area (represented by the vertical bar of the T) and perform a broad set of other skills effectively (the horizontal bar).

T-shaped profiles are as unique as the person themself, and can evolve in both directions, e.g. by developing even more mastery of core areas or deepening knowledge of areas related to their role, or by acquiring a basic level of new skills and thereby broadening their overall knowledge. And the benefits they bring to a team’s overall functioning are not to be underestimated.

Enhanced team cohesion improves performance, commitment and agility

By ensuring all team members have a wide breadth of experience and at least basic understanding of all team skills, teams not only have the core expertise needed but are able to speak a common language, both among themselves and across teams and business environments. This makes decision-making more efficient, problem-solving more creative, and collaboration more productive – all of which are crucial building blocks of the required agility for fast-paced digital innovation. 

Add an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity in experience, character & professional backgrounds and fosters strong and durable interpersonal connections, and teams will rise beyond the call of duty for each other and the goal ahead. Furthermore the same diversity brings the ability of partners to navigate between cultures, business environments and boardrooms where innovation now resides with equal ease.

Innovation is never smooth sailing, so a keen understanding of, and commitment to each other are essential to ride the waves of uncertainty and ambiguity it inevitably brings.

Key take-away

Strategising, defining and building digital solutions takes a wide range of skills and expertise, and if teams are to collaborate effectively and deliver measurable results, they need to be able to speak each other’s language. 

T-shaped profiles with diverse backgrounds, as well as a culture that fosters strong interpersonal connections, are both key to building powerful, cohesive innovation teams that excel at what they do, and that have the speed and agility to deliver in today’s fast paced and uncertain world.

Muriel Mwema

Director of Product Management

22/11/2021
November 22, 2021
-
2
min read

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About Fast Company’s ‘Best Workplace for Innovators’

November Five was named one of Fast Company’s global 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators in both 2020 and 2021. This annual list, developed in collaboration with Accenture, recognises and honors the top 100 businesses from different industries that inspire, support and promote innovation at all levels. For the consecutive year, November Five was the single Belgian workplace listed.

Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company and FastCompany.com inspire readers and users to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations and create the future of business.

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