From individuals to networks of teams

network of teams
Illustration: Studio Fee Overbeeke

In their article “Organizational Design: the rise of teams” McDowell et. al. describe how new shapes of organisations are emerging. From static hierarchical organisations to networks of teams that are able to adapt to the continuously changing environment. Traditionally the focus of HR has been on individuals. Many of todays HR practices (as recruitment and performance management) take the individual employee as the starting point. The view of HR is also often limited to the people on the payroll of an organisation, with less or no focus on people and teams who are important for the organisation but not on the payroll. The focus of HR is slowly shifting, from individuals to teams. Looking at networks of teams and how to improve the way teams are working together still gets less attention.

Are HR practices team focused?

In the table below we have made an attempt to assess to what extend the HR practices of today are generally focused on teams. The score can vary between one black box (“Not at all”) to ten black boxes (“Totally focused on teams’).

HR Practices team focus

Conclusion: most current HR practices still tend to focus on individuals, less on teams, and probably not at all on networks of teams.

Opportunities for HR

The opportunities for HR to contribute to the shift from individuals to teams to networks of teams are big. There are many tools available that can support the shift in the different areas. The beste starting point for an HR team is probably to review the HR practices, rate the practices as was done in the table above, and choose the priority areas where it makes most sense to focus more on teams than on individuals.

Interesting tools

Belbin team roles test


“an innovative platform for Organisational Network Analysis. It’s designed to map, visualise and analyse networks of people and relations between them, revealing how organisations really operate in day-to-day business.”


Calculates a social network score, and helps you to share better on social media


“is an online organisational diagnostic tool that analyses and visualises the human networks your employees use to collaborate, communicate and exchange information over in order to do their daily work. It produces informative network maps and lists of key influencers who have substantial impact on performance, communication, learning, and innovation.”


Helps to organise people in teams around assignments


“Where work happens. Team communication for the 21st century.

Team Effectiveness Assessment 


‘Teamily navigates teams through their projects and challenges. It categorises work in 16 sequential challenges and matches that work to team members”.


Illustration: Studio Fee Overbeeke

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