Team Structure

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Effective communication is the most important factor of team action, and hence team structure.

In response to any event, the team needs to understand the situation, converge towards common goals, and perform coordinated action.

So team structure is all about the communication protocol that determines who communicates and does what with who.

First the team must distinguish personals from commons, based on how many people are affected by something. For example, private food, drink, clothing, room, and time are normally understood as personals. However, the category of food and drink permeates into the commons when dishes are left on a kitchen counter unwashed, which results in poor aesthetics (visual and smell), unusable cookware, and a breeding ground for harmful pests and pathogens. A similar cross-scenario involves unsanitary behaviour in the washroom that results in bacteria-ridden sink handles and doorknobs. Most things involve an element of both personals and commons; the distinction is a valuable point of analysis whenever a team is facing a commons issue.

The situations mentioned so far (dish-washing, washroom behaviour) are relatively straightforward and obvious so concerns can be voiced readily. However, consider the situation when a common resource such as propane, soap, or energy is used in large amounts or when projects alter land or buildings in ways that are difficult or impossible to reverse. Finally, consider the time and effort it takes to do things (ex. unwashed dishes get harder and harder to clean if left to dry; how does the team allocate individual time for personal/common-associated activities). These general situations can be termed "common consumption", "reversible projects", and "team time".

The commons definitely requires more communication among the team, especially involving understanding and acceptance from those who are affected by the particular commons situation. However, similar to the personals/commons distinction, another distinction must be made about the extent to which individuals are affected by a change. For example, the land beside a road is not only seen by those living next to it but also those driving by, whether they live in the neighbourhood or just passing by; to what extent should the team communicate to those individuals while considering how much time and effort it takes to do so?

In general, the showing of skill and common vision builds confidence and trust with other individuals so as to allow more leeway in a particular commons field. For example, if an individual cooks well and acknowledges tool principles such as safety and reliability, then the team is less concerned if that individual adds special kitchen tools to the common kitchenware cabinet, especially given the reversibility of a small stored tool. On the flip side, unused and fragile tools lead to clutter and various risks that may prompt members of the team to voice their concerns.

Directly coordinated action can come in the form of requests for help or common discussions about priorities especially when infrastructure items are outstanding. A regular schedule such as a day for commons infrastructure development can result in well-coordinated team action towards a specific common objective.

For coordination purposes, it is important for individuals to communicate the fields or tasks that they would like to or are willing to take on- ex. "I can take on the left mounting plate". Sometimes, acceptance is implied when noone voices a conflicting response; other times, silence means that the acceptance is under consideration or involves concerns. A regular schedule such as a daily time for intra/inter-team communication is useful for team coordination.