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4:00pm - 5:40pm
Building Adaptable Teams for Co-configuration
University of Cape Town, South Africa
In innovative organisations we are seeing an increase in cross-functional teams being built around projects. Their diverse perspectives drawn from personal world-views and organisational roles contribute to radical collaboration across traditional boundaries of work.
Co-configuration, an emerging customer-centric mode of work, "involves building and sustaining a fully integrated system that can sense, respond, and adapt to the individual experience of the customer" (Victor & Boynton, 1998:195). In practices of co-configuration there is a need to go beyond conventional team work or networking to the practice of ‘knotworking’ (Engeström et al, 1999). Knotworking, the emerging interactional core of co-configuration, is where separate actors can quickly come together and tie a knot and work together and solve a problem or design a task in the most efficient way possible (Engeström, 2012).
Knotworking, Engeström (2008:196) claims,"poses qualitatively new learning challenges to work communities." Critical to knotworking and the functioning of constantly changing participant configurations is rapid negotiation and improvisation (ibid).
The changing configurations of teams happen over time, specifically "the entire life trajectory of the product or service" (Engeström, Puonti, & Seppänen, 2003). The life trajectory of products/services is framed as expansive and aligned here with the iterative innovation learning journey (Beckman & Barry, 2007).
This diversity in collaborators and temporality of team configurations, based on objective/motive of the project at a specific time, can present challenges around cohesion, alignment and synchronicity.
Foundational work practices, that is, the enacted values of a team change with each iteration. These foundational work practices are rooted in the personal values of each individual and espoused as team values. With rapidly changing teams, the misalignment between espoused and enacted values can create tensions which can hinder or derail a teams efforts.
This hands-on workshop aims at testing a rapid team alignment activity in which teams propose core values and align these to the innovation learning cycle, synthesising them into foundational work practices for each phase. These are then reframed as the teams' innovation narrative.