Systems for team empowerment: Research on practice 2020
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Hughes, Martin. (2020). Systems for team empowerment: Research on practice 2020. Galway: National University of Ireland Galway.
Teams are incredible. Teamwork has raised humanity’s achievements to greatness. Not only have most of humanity’s greatest achievement resulted from teamwork but those teams were empowered by systems of work, systems of scientific discovery, systems of construction and systems of control, and more. Thus, systems for team empowerment have always been key to our success. In 2018, when the first volume of cases was compiled, we identified VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), Digital Transformation, Diversity, Dispersed Location and Dynamic Capability as concerns in the team empowerment landscape. Over the subsequent two years, those concernsremained, with a somewhat normal intensification until March 2020 when, due to the Covid19 pandemic, VUCA went from a concern to a full-on mode of being. Work-From-Home (WFH) was suddenly propelled onto every management agenda. In Ireland, and elsewhere, as the country went into lockdown, teams across every industry suddenly found themselves having to figure out how to make WFH a success. Three simple truths became obvious immediately; 1) the workplace was no longer a communal single location. The new reality was dispersed. 2) the process of work became dependent on digital enablement and 3) teams would have to respond to this VUCA environment in new and dynamic ways. Overnight, Dispersed, Digital and Dynamic became a triple alliance of necessity. VUCA, in reality and as an acronym, is both scary and intimidating. However, working individually and more often as teams, we have a rich history of incredible resilience in dealing with VUCA environments. The elements, characteristics and interactions are different but humanity has faced VUCA many times in the past and emerged triumphant. The cases which follow were all written at peak VUCA 2020. Our timing, unfortunately, a little too early to study the emergent realities. However, all the cases provide value insights into systematic team empowerment which, is a critical leadership skill of our times.