Powerful metaphors guide our collective thoughts. It took a long time to understand heliocentrism and then modern science even blasts that model apart somewhat. In spite of all our scientific knowledge, many people still believe in the geocentric model.
Metaphors that provide the common mental frameworks for our organizations are also powerful tools. For example, the company as a well-oiled machine conjures up a certain image. Today, more people are viewing the organization as a biological system, bringing new metaphors that can change the way we think, and act. The Socialcast blog has an infographic that shows what ants can teach the enterprise about teamwork starting with four challenges of distributed teams:
- Too much Focus on Technology and Process.
- Focus is on Doing, not Goals.
- Weak team Cohesion.
- Trouble adopting Technology.
One answer is the concept of bioteams, with four key zones that should be supported by the organization.
“We are all leaders. We must keep one another informed in real time. We trust living systems to self-organize”; writes Jay Cross on bioteams. A self-organizing, living system versus a well-oiled machine: pick the company you would rather work for.
My experience with distributed teams confirms these four essential components. I would also add an essential ingredient that strengthens the bonds between these four components and that is trust. However, even with new frameworks and models, the hard work is in changing practice, as those persevering geocentrists show.