2020 saw a decade of digital advancement in just a few months and this hasn’t slowed down since – certainly at Insights the pandemic acted as a super-accelerator for our digital plans. This has led to dramatic changes in the way our organisation and other work and do business.
Since then, the concept of superteams has evolved further to a point where technology is more integrated and complementary capabilities are used to re-architect the workplace in more human ways than ever before. People and technology is not an either/or situation. We’ve had to rely on technology to enable us to mobilise as remote workers; while on the other hand, technology is not yet able to completely replicate human thinking and interactions.
I believe we’re now at another inflection point and that the concept of superteams, if supported by people investment, could have an even more profound impact on the world. With that in mind, I’ve identified five ways organisations can use ‘superteam’ thinking – underpinned by investment in awareness – to build more connected, more productive, and more successful workplaces. We can use the concept as a foundation toward building better teams for the future.
Superteams is about bringing together different skills and ways of thinking to collectively achieve a shared goal. What if technology were seen as a team member? What does it bring and contribute to the effectiveness of the whole? Next time you’re assembling a working group, why not take a different approach to designing your teams: for example, focus on talent over titles, or skills over job roles; and include the available technologies in your assessment. What is the goal for this team, and who (or what technology) brings the right skills and capabilities to enable success?
Once you have the ingredients, then the team needs to know how to work together and leverage each other’s skills and strengths. That includes understanding what any chosen technology is able to do, and what its limitations are.
Whether human or digital, the value of diversity in a team comes when there is awareness of and openness to differences of opinion and approach. Constructing a diverse team with the right skills to achieve a goal is one thing, but that is not enough to ensure success. When you bring together people with different personality types and preferences, look for ways to support cross-pollination and collaboration. Technology can help!
As well redesigning your teams, rearchitect how they do the work they do – by focusing first on purpose. Technology, when used well, aids in this focus by taking on the parts of work that are suitable for automation and allowing more time for people to focus on the parts of work that still benefit from or even require human touch.
So, allow your superteams to rip up the rule book and start with a blank sheet of paper…or screens. Have them identify the parts of their work that could benefit from being automated, and at the same time help them identify the additional purposeful, meaningful work they will then be able to do more of.
Reskilling and upskilling are now an essential part of work, and that’s likely to continue with further advancements in technology and AI. Technical skills have a half-life of about 2.5 years, whereas non-technical skills will remain relevant for 5 years. This means that you need to build an ongoing approach to updating technical skills across your organisation; but it also means that the investments you make in ‘human skills’ last longer.
Human skills are usually transferable across role and industry, which also makes them a good investment. Top human skills include communication, collaboration, resilience, agility, and creativity. These skills are increasingly in demand, and cannot easily be replaced by robots.
Superteams with members who are strong in human skills will be more effective, both in working together as a team, and in effectively leveraging the relevant technologies to enhance their success.
Invest in your superteam by helping them increase awareness of self, and others: this is the foundation of everything we do at Insights. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness as well as awareness of others, and critical thinking starts with awareness of your own thought processes. These abilities are important for individuals, but essential for superteams. They are also not yet to be found in most technologies.
In an environment where technology is a part of day-to-day, and often minute-to-minute interactions in a team, it is still the human team members who need to cultivate and demonstrate emotional intelligence. And it is the humans who need to think critically about the role of technology in the team, not relying on it blindly but intentionally deciding where and how to use it to enable team success.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to enable superteams is ensure you have the right culture in your organisation. If you want your teams to make effective use of digital technologies, build a strong learning culture.
This means taking the time to consider how people learn, and letting that be the foundation for your learning ecosystem and learning culture. Technology can then be both a tool in the learning process, where appropriate, as well as a skillset to be learned and updated on an ongoing basis.
This approach prevents teams from the mistake of thinking that just because a technology is available they should use it. Instead, superteams are firmly grounded in the value and awareness of how they learn, and can seek out the technology to supplement or enhance their journeys.
Creating superteams is about reimagining the composition of a team, bringing together diverse thinking styles, and elevating the value that they bring. For the people in a team to engage and use their collective thinking, leveraging technology as appropriate, they need to focus on building connections with each other and working together as an effective team.
That all comes from investing in awareness to develop human skills and build emotional intelligence – and with that, you’re creating better performing, better connected superteams in your workplace.
Dr Tanya Boyd Insights Discovery Learning Architect