Up to now, we’ve categorized members of the virtual workforce as belonging to one team or another. That’s because, as a corporate society, we’ve been using this terminology for decades. Teamwork—or that notion, anyway—has actually been around much longer. And even in our global age, when the nature of work over the past decade has changed in every imaginable way, the word team is still used to describe basically any collection of resources that loosely work together around a common goal.
But does this still make sense? We don’t think so entirely. In fact, the word team can be a misnomer and, worse, summon up knee-jerk behaviors that further spread Virtual Distance. As we’ve learned in the previous sections, this can be quite costly. So we turn our attention to teams and explore why and how this idea should be modified to better face the Digital Age.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TEAMS
Even before the Industrial Age, work was done by groups gathered as apprentices under the tutelage of master craftsmen. These groups can be traced as far back as the twelfth century and were called guilds.
Together with mutual aid, the ‘honour’ of the craft defined the purpose for which guilds existed. There was a sense of pride in the “misterium artis,” in the special technique and skill known only to oneself and one’s colleagues, and in the excellence of the finished article. Artefacts must be “loyal.” To be a skilled craftsman was to occupy and fulfill a recognized role, an officium ...