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Fluid Teams – a New and Emerging Structure within the Teaming Continuum

At the 2008 Olympics, Beijing built what has become known as the Water Cube to house many of the swimming competitions of the 2008 games including diving and synchronized swimming.

In July 2003, the Water Cube design was chosen from 10 proposals in an international architectural competition for the aquatic center project. The Water Cube was specially designed and built by a team made up of an Australian architecture firm, an international engineering group, The China State Construction Engineering Corporation, and The China Construction Design International of Shanghai. Many people believe the Water Cube to be the fastest Olympic pool in the world.  It is also famous for having been the pool in which 25 world records were broken. The Water Cube’s design was developed by a new and emerging structure within the teaming continuum, a high performance collaboration of the most difficult kind.  This special consortium of engineers, designers and leaders are what we’re calling the Fluid Team.

There are many teams that are stable, intact work units or cross-functional project teams that work together over long periods of time.  They take the typical Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing trajectory and can be molded into high performance teams once they become clear about their common goals, roles and responsibilities, authority and accountability.

Then there are teams of an entirely different framework, called Fluid Teams.  These are experts from disparate functions and geographies who must get a temporary project or task up and running, sometimes with completely different priorities, beliefs and values.  The Water Cube project at the Beijing Olympics was such a team with dozens of people from 20 disciplines and four countries.

In the beginning the four architectural firms each developed their own design concept and then all the experts were brought together to brainstorm and evaluate the designs, shifting the process from a sequential one to a reciprocal (back-and-forth) one that achieved a better, more cost-effective design.  Can you imagine the complexity of such a project?

Do you see Fluid Teams emerging in your workplace?  Do they have a place in this increasingly complex and fast-paced world?  Read more about our theories on constructing a Fluid Team (Download Here)




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An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

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