‘Team to Market’ is the new battleground for competitive advantage

Cass Business School and Slack reveal new independent research into the future of teamwork with the 'Team to Market' report

Cass Business School and Slack today reveal new independent research into the future of teamwork with the 'Team to Market' report.

It builds on Professor Feng Li’s three decades of research experience and distills its findings into a new management concept, 'Team to Market'.

The report identifies the relationships between team alignment and execution, drivers for competitive advantage, and the role of new workplace technologies.  It concludes that teams are the fundamental building blocks of modern organisations. High performance teams require effective interpersonal communication alongside an ability to leverage all existing organisational knowledge and specialist software with ease.

A new generation of collaboration technologies are emerging, which have the potential to supersede systems that have dominated workplaces for decades and fundamentally transform the way teams work by enabling app integration, reducing reliance on traditional email, and providing rich, searchable records.

The ability of collaboration tools to enable fluid, rapid and flexible team formation is facilitating the emergence of the 'Team to Market' concept - and its potential as a source of competitive advantage looks set to increase.

“Teams are the fundamental building blocks of modern organisations.  Improving team performance and their seamless integration is the new battleground for competitive advantage.  There is no shortage of guidelines on how to create the dream team.  However, despite over half a century’s research and experimentation on teams and teamwork, building teams that consistently deliver superior performance remains a hit-or-miss affair.  This report advances the notion of 'Team to Market' to help business leaders and knowledge workers create and maintain high performance teams in the digital age,” explained Professor Li.

Factors impacting teamwork

The 'Team to Market' report found that while almost 100 per cent of leading businesses today use team-based structures (up from under 20 per cent in 1980) little consensus exists on what makes effective teamwork. This is despite 50 per cent of a worker’s time being spent on collaboration and over 20,000 academic publications being published per year, since 2017, investigating teamwork.

However, the report identifies several key factors impacting team performance which must be considered by business leaders, including:

1. Size and Structure
2. Cognitive Load
3. Range of Responsibilities
4. Team Chemistry and Cohesion
5. Team Technologies

Beyond this, the report found that the nature of the economy has changed radically, meaning the success of any team is now dependent on smart use of technology and the most valuable resource of our time - information.

“'Team to Market' should be distinguished from another popular concept – 'Time to Market', which refers to the length of time between a product being conceived and it being available for sale. Time to Market is important in industries where products are outmoded quickly or for first-of-a-kind products. However, by treating time as the 'north star metric' to drive performance, other important metrics – such as quality, cost, customer experience and so forth – are often compromised. After all, time is an arbitrary measure which needs to be balanced with other metrics. In contrast, 'Team to Market' empowers the team to balance multiple metrics holistically based on changing circumstances and emerging intelligence in order to maximise results and business impact,” added Professor Li.

“The 'Team to Market' report provides crucial insights for organisations seeking to create an environment which increases their chance of building high-performance teams - the bedrock of business success,” said Robert Frati, Senior Vice President of Sales and Customer Success at Slack.

“Over 40 of the FTSE 100 are paid Slack users and we’ve seen first-hand the impact it can have. For example, at the FIFA World Cup, where it enabled a vast network from designers to on-screen talent and tech teams to collaborate in real time, delivering content seamlessly for an audience of millions," he continued.

Psychology and technology of successful teamwork

Professor Li further unearthed findings into the psychology of high-performance teams, showing that businesses looking to unlock the benefits of a 'Team to Market' approach must aim to meet three key psychological criteria:

1. Chemistry between team members
2. Trust between team members and leadership
3. A meaningful attachment between the team members and the work they are doing

However, psychology is just one aspect of a modern team and the report notes that approaches must take into account that virtual work has become the new normal, with people working flexibly from dispersed locations, often involved in multiple teams and interacting through technology.

Collaboration technologies, and channel-based communication was found to be growing, and crucially, enabling teams to work and build relationships together effectively, whether remotely or in the same location. Benefits of such technologies were found to include:

1. Integration with a growing set of apps, business processes   and third-party software and the ability to build custom tools
2. A rich permanent, searchable record of knowledge
3. Fluidity and flexibility in evolving, disbanding or updating teams at speed

“It’s clear that moving forward, 'Team to Market' must be a central concern for organisations seeking to maintain and grow competitiveness. At a time when organisations globally face increasingly challenging market forces, Professor Li’s timely, insightful and valuable research is testament to the power collaboration tools hold in unlocking new competitive advantages, and the necessity of their central position in business today and tomorrow,” concluded Mr Frati.

Find out more

Read a blog post about the report here.

Download the report here.

This is an independent, funded report for Slack by Cass Business School.

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