The Logic of Designing a Team

What are we designing when we’re designing a team?

There are at least three pieces in designing a team:

  • Designing the work process: How do we deliver values? What’s the intake and hand-off process? How do we coordinate, cooperate and collaborate with people outside the team? In designing work process, we’re designing the procedural logic of a team.
  • Designing the organizational model and work structure: How do we operate and communicate? How we support each other and the people outside the team? What are the expectations we should and can have for each other and for a task? What are our rights? How do we help everyone in the team grow? How do we evolve together as a team? In designing the work model and structure, we’re designing the topological and architectural logic of the team.
  • Designing the work culture: What social conventions and norms do we have as a team? How do we interpret our missions and visions? What are our guiding principles? What are our team values? In designing the team culture, we’re designing the social logic of the team.

Much has been said about designing the work processes and work cultures, while the organizational model and work structure are often the topic to be avoided.

There’s a reason for that. While the former two involve deliberations on power structure just as much, the latter explicitly requires that power structure to be exposed and clarified to the whole team.

The catch is, nobody in the management wants to clarify that delicate power structure thingy.

That’s why we often end up with an organizational setting where processes are often rigid, cultures are often authoritarian, but almost never with transparency on org model and work structure.

What is the procedural logic of your team?

What is the topological and architectural logic of it?

What is the social logic of it?

How do you design them?

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