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Teamwork and Collaboration

Examples of Teamwork

Examples of Teamwork

Peter Drucker – the grandfather of modern management – has used the analogy of sport to describe the different types of teams that we might find ourselves working in. Drucker described three types of teams:

  • A “Baseball team”: Each person on this kind of team has a specialist role (like first-baseman). Workplace examples might be Production lines, surgical teams, a crime investigation team etc
  • A “Football team”: Each person on this kind of team has different specialists working alongside each with veried varied skills but providing mutual support to each other. Examples might be an Orchestra, a design team, hospital ER team etc
  • A “Tennis doubles team”:  Each person on this kind of team has works in a highly interactive way to meet each other’s needs (what might be called “covering”). Examples here might be innovation groups, and audit team and certain types of management teams etc

On a baseball type team each team member is responsible for a particular activity – like the baseball team where a first-baseman has his or her “area” and activities, the pitcher has a different set of responsibilities and the team produces results as each person fulfills his or her role effectively. (A basketball or cricket team would be similar.) No one can do the job of any other person on the team, except perhaps to back them up if they don’t execute adequately. The “action” tends to be with one person on the team at a time.

On a football (or soccer) team the difference is that while different players have their “positions” on the field, they interact much more, supporting each other and responding directly to each other’s actions. On a football team there’s less structure and, although team members may play in particular positions or have special skills, they nevertheless all have to play at the same pace, respond quickly to each other’s actions and coordinate their activities – players may even play out of position or take on the role of other players for short period of time.

In Drucker’s example of the tennis doubles team, team members are usually highly interactive and responsive to each other’s action. There’s a “doubling up” of the skills, so that each can cover for the other (at the ‘front’ or ‘back’ or on one side or the other) – effectively two people doing the same thing but being doubly responsive, covering double the court space, etc.

The benefits of Drucker’s sporting team thinking as it relates to the workplace is that it allows us to think about how we set up our teams on the first place and then operate them on an ongoing basis.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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