The team concept is a departure from the traditional management style. Assignments used to be made to individuals. The success of these assignments represented the way to get ahead. Today this is changing in many companies. The continual improvement process (Dr. Deming's Point 5) depends on effective teamwork; every employee has a role and responsibilities to ensure continual improvements in quality, productivity, and profitability. In 1950, Dr. Deming told the Japanese that statistical control of quality involves "the application of statistical principles and techniques in all stages of production, design, maintenance, and service, directed toward the satisfaction of demand." Teams composed of people from these different disciplines should work together to continually improve the process.
Dr. Deming's Point 6 emphasizes the team concept:
Point 6. Everyone can take part in a team. The aim of a team is to improve the input and the output of any stage. A team may well be composed of people from different staff areas. A team has a customer.
Everyone on a team has a chance to contribute ideas, plans, and figures; but anyone may expect to find some of his best ideas submerged by consensus of the team. He may have a chance on the later time around the cycle. A good team has a social memory.
At successive sessions, people may tear up what they did in the previous session and make a fresh start with clearer ideas. This is a sign of advancement.
Teams do not appear from thin air in a given organization. They have to be planned, developed, and cultured into entities that produce common goals. Teamwork works best when a particular job (task) requires interdependence among people who have ownership of the process and have multidisciplinary and cross-functional backgrounds. Obviously, the team members must also get along with each other.
Rules to remember are the following:
Identify the team.
Develop the team. Teach team problem solving, openly share data, build norms of shared and collaborative action, and teach team members to reinforce one another.
Identify team goals.
Recognize team accomplishments regularly.
Respond to the team's needs.
Maintain the team.