Barrie’s Blog

How teams differ from hierarchical groups

The term Team is used so frequently that one might assume that it has a common meaning that has the same interpretation by everyone. Sadly, this is not the case so I would like to offer some thoughts as to what exactly a team is and how it differs from a hierarchical group.

To be perfectly honest I often find myself cringing at the mention of the word team as I feel it is not only overused, it is actually abused. I acknowledge that the word has a nice warm connotation that bestows a feeling of camaraderie and a sense of belonging and that’s nice. The issue I have is that calling a group of people a team doesn’t make them a team and certainly will not magic them into being an effective team. I can’t help recalling the following comment I heard a few back during an American election campaign: “You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.” It might be a bit insensitive, but it does serve to illustrate the point I am trying to make.

Let me be clear at this point that the teams and hierarchical groups both serve legitimate but differing purposes within an organisation. What is important is that we distinguish between the two to avoid confusion misunderstandings.  With this in mind I have attempted to define each of these entities.

A Team is a collaborative group of individuals who come together to achieve a shared defined goal, solve problems, or complete projects by leveraging their unique skills, knowledge, and expertise. In a team, members work interdependently, share responsibilities and make joint decisions.Team

A Hierarchical Group is a structure in an organisation that is characterised by a clear chain of command and authority. In a hierarchical group, individuals have specific roles and responsibilities that are determined by their position in the hierarchy.Hierarchical Group

More important than the definitions though are the differences between how each entity operates and interacts. In the table below I have picked out just 5 of the factors that distinguish a hierarchical group from a team.

Teams v Groups

The above examples are indicative rather than exhaustive. In fact, over the last 40 years or so I have identified a list of 12 key characteristics I have found to be present in high performing teams. These are now used as a basis for the Watson Team Performance Indicator (WTPI). If you are curious about finding how well your team scores against these factors why don’t you try out the WTPI
Barrie Watson© 2023

Improve team performance by using the WTPI assessment


Learn from Successful Sports Teams and Boost the Performance of Your Team

Successful sports teams are increasingly using diagnostic information and technology to identify weaknesses.  They make extensive use of performance analysts as they strive to outperform their competitors.  Surely it’s time for teams in the workplace to follow this example to maximise their performance.  If you agree, here is something that will help.

WTPI Feedback

Find out what’s holding your team back

The Watson Team Performance Indicator (WTPI) assessment is a useful tool to support a process of continual team performance improvement.  It provides the analysis needed to identify any weaknesses that exist and need to worked on. It also shows the exisiting strengths of a team to enable them to be fully deployed to maximise team performance.
The Watson Team Performance Indicator (WTPI) complements the analytical and advisory information provided by the Belbin team assessments.  Used in combination, they provide a surefire, cost-effective way of raising the performance of your team to another level.

Exciting News: Online Beta Version of the WTPI Now Available

We are thrilled to announce that in collaboration with Edurom of Romania, we have now launched the online beta version of the WTPI. Taking only around 7 minutes to complete, this online assessment will provide an instant snapshot of how well your team scores against 12 critical factors.  Use this link or or the QR code to try it out the beta version now – FREE of charge. 

So take advantage of this opportunity to boost your team’s performance with the Watson Team Performance Indicator (WTPI). Learn from the success of sports teams and harness the power of technology and diagnostics. Participate in our beta testing now by clicking the link above or use the QR code.

Barrie Watson