The number one complaint I hear about teamwork is that it takes too long. My response to this concern is, “It depends on what you measure.”
Let’s suppose the clock starts running when there’s a question to be decided. The usual place to stop the clock is when the group reaches its decision.
With those start and stop points, I agree that teamwork does take longer. Each person needs time to express his or her opinion. When the issue is contentious, one group might dig in on its position. Finding a creative solution that everyone can support takes awhile, sometimes a long while.
A quicker alternative is for one person to decide. No meetings. No arguments. No fuss. Baddabing. Baddaboom. Done.
The trouble is that it’s typically not done. Reaching a decision isn’t a useful endpoint. The decision needs to be acted upon. In organizational life that means getting people to do something different. Implementation is always the hard part.
If you involve everyone in the decision process, they will take longer to decide. But once they’ve got it, implementation is more likely to go smoothly. If you decide on your own, you’ll get a quick decision. The implementation, however, will drag on much longer than you want. Perhaps, you’ll never get the decision fully acted upon.
Before concluding that teamwork takes too long, consider what you are ultimately working to accomplish. The timer stops only when that goal has been achieved. When you measure like that, you’ll find that teamwork actually saves time.
Image credit: wwarby