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El blog de Mikel Niño
Emprendimiento digital, startups, Big Data Analytics y nuevos modelos de negocio

"MAD" teams: changing teamwork paradigms in an entrepreneurship-intensive ecosystem

In order to prepare a blog entry for New Year's Day, I was searching my archives for some content related to good wishes and resolutions for the coming year, so I started watching a TED talk by a speaker with a rather atypical profile: the Benedictine monk (and PhD) David Steindl-Rast. His 14-minute lecture deals with the concept of gratitude as the key to happiness. Little did I expect that a I would find several insightful ideas to reflect on the new teamwork paradigms that, without a doubt, will increasingly appear thanks to an intensification of entrepreneurship.

Towards the end of his lecture, David Steindl-Rast proposes the following idea:
"The future of the world will be a network, not a pyramid, not a pyramid turned upside down. The revolution of which I’m speaking is a non-violent revolution and it’s so revolutionary that it even revolutionizes the very concept of a revolution, because the normal revolution is one where the power pyramid is turned upside down, and those who were on the bottom are now on the top, and they’re doing exactly the same thing that the ones did before. What we need is a networking of smaller groups, smaller and smaller groups, who know one another, who interact with one another, and that is a grateful world."
The spread of initiatives that put entrepreneurs in contact to share their experiences, or even to offer collaboration and services to one another, reinforces the idea mentioned above. But I would go a step further and say that the economic situation that our society is currently undergoing doesn't particularly favor the traditional enterprise model comprised of "business owner + hired employees" (for instance, how difficult is it nowadays to get the necessary recurrent income to finance an office and ten salaries every month?). A model based on a "network of micro-groups", as pointed out in the lecture, where several people with different profiles join their abilities to work in common projects, but keeping at the same time their autonomy and commonly organized in a distributed way (not working in the same physical space), seems like a better-suited paradigm for the current context, even more if we take into account how intensively the entrepreneurial approach is being encouraged nowadays.

These "MAD" teams (Multidisciplinary + Autonomous + Distributed) entail a change in the models used to manage teamwork. And I'm not only talking about the necessary IT tools to manage distributed work or to organize remote meetings. We are going to need a new toolset regarding leadership and teamwork, adapted to a new context where you work with entrepreneurs (and therefore people with initiative and autonomy) but at the same time you have to exercise a kind of leadership with which this profile feels comfortable enough to work (managing or advising entrepreneurs who accumulate a long professional baggage is a very enriching experience but also a difficult challenge), keeping team cohesion and alignment with the project's goals. Important elements related to team management, such as motivation and recognition, will have to incorporate new keys to adapt to this new context.

Quite a compelling challenge for a New Year's resolution :-) I leave you with David Steindl-Rast, whishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014!



[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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