January 18, 2012
Teams, Shopping Carts, and Lawyering
Posted by Gordon Smith

In the Crocker Fellows class today, we talked about teams. I have blogged about entrepreneurial teams and teams in the classroom, but the Crocker Fellows Program is built on a particular notion of teams, captured by the famous definition of teams in Katzenbach and Smith (1994): "a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable." In our class, the teams of five people comprise a mix of majors, including engineering, computer science, business, life science, graphic design, etc.

Chris Mattson led the discussion, using the Nightline episode on IDEO as an illustration. Here it is:

Does anyone use the IDEO shopping cart? I haven't seen any in the US, but there are reports of similar carts in France. And Chris has seen similar carts in China ... so has this guy. If you are interested in more on IDEO, you might also check out Tom Kelly on Stanford's ecorner.

As for the Crocker Fellows, the teams are still in the "forming" stage (see Tuckman's stages of group development), but they are transitioning quickly into the "storming" phase. While I am eager to see what emerges from these teams, I was asking myself some questions today in my observer status:

  • What is the role of law and lawyers, if any, at this stage in the innovation process?
  • Lawyers work in teams to develop briefs or documents ... is the IDEO process essentially the same as writing an innovative brief or constructing a new deal structure?
  • Could we use teams in this way to teach law? (My classroom teams have a more modest function than the teams we are using in the fellows program.)

No answers, yet, but maybe by the end of the semester I will have some more ideas.

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