High level of commitment does not imply high-performance teams

Michael Beer bookA few weeks ago I was talking about high-performance teams with Manel Peiró PhD, Academic Vice-Dean of ESADE Business School. On his desk was a copy of the new book by Michael Beer, a professor at the Harvard Business School, “High Commitment, High Performance: How to Build a Resilient Organization for Sustained Advantage”. Since his doctoral thesis had discussed the commitment in medicine, we started to talk about the topic.

Many researchers based on the premise that a high level of performance is a direct result of a high level of commitment. Beer’s research focused on the commitment of leaders, may be true. But not so when we talk about teams.

In my research on the cooperation model in complexity “Cooplexity”, I show that after an initial individual dimension of knowledge acquisition, cohesion is a definite key factor in the development of the group. When the group becomes conscious of itself as a unit with its meaning, we call them a team. However, a cohesive and highly committed team doesn’t get the best results just only for those facts. When the group becomes a team in the full sense, we still need something more. It is the self-coordination function as a natural and spontaneous process to achieve coordination in a decentralised manner, sharing alerts, visualising cross opportunities and focusing on a common goal. At this level, two factors help in getting results, equal relationship and the establishment of criteria for action.

IndividualKnowledgeExplorationProactivity oriented to resultsData gathering
Decision making
Control of the objective
Proactivity oriented to relationsInteraction
GroupCohesionCommon projectGroup integrationCooperation
Trust generationEquality
TeamSelf-coordinationInterconnectionsEqual relationshipMutual consideration
Criteria for actionDefinition of criteria
Unification of criteria
Alternative criteria

Talking about high-performance teams commitment is necessary but not sufficient. We need cohesion for team consciousness purposes but is self-coordination which ensures a high level of performance.

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