Working with groups and teams: Is there a difference?

Working with groups and teams: Is there a difference?

I remember the first time I had to do a workshop for 30 or so bright-eyed students on the subject of teamwork. I had to explain the difference between a group and a team and how to form a group into a team. Up until this particular workshop what I have known about the group concept and the team concept could have been summed up like this: “a bunch of people coming together to do something.” Sure, it is not something you would put on a flipchart and call it a definition right? After some research, I realized I wasn’t entirely wrong.. but I was not right either. There is a lot more behind the group/team distinction and knowing the difference does matter when you deliver a training on group dynamics or teamwork, or you need to assemble a working group or a marketing team to do the job. The question is why does it matter?

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Team Canvas – Get your team on the same page

This is a guest post by Alex Ivanov. Alex and his team developed a simple-to-use and very visual framework called Team Canvas for teambuilding and team alignment that is available freely to anyone under Creative Commons licence. We are grateful to Alex for having shared this great tool with the facilitators’ community, and also glad to announce that you can find Team Canvas resources on SessionLab both in the library and as a Featured Session – so you can seamlessly integrate it in your next session plan if you decide to do so.

On average, only 46 out of 100 workgroups within organizations end up creating value for companies, and up to 92% of freshly created startup teams are destined to fail for various reason. A study mentioned by Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman suggests that 60+% of those reasons are related to problems within teams, e.g. miscommunication, unresolved conflicts, co-founder disagreements, key players leaving teams at pivotal moments and so on.

What makes it even worse is that the tools for team maintenance and leadership for various reasons are not easily available to small teams like startups and creative agencies, and are not widely used within even bigger companies.

Here is a simple question: Is there something you personally can do to make the team you work in more successful and productive? We suggest that simply put, yes.

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Can online courses substitute classroom training in the corporate world?

You can sit in your cosy living room and learn JavaScript on Codeacademy or take Intro to Physics course on Udacity. You choose the topic, the time and the place – what’s there not to like? Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are great! They are great in the same way as books are great – fantastic collections of information that you can obtain whenever it’s suitable for you.

However, they have been criticized a lot because of the low completion rate, which is around 10% on average. It might seem very low, though in many cases an online course is taken just to check out the new possibilities of online learning, without the intention of actually finishing it. On the other hand, there are online courses that have more than 40-50% completion rate. Then again, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun has admitted, “we have a lousy product“, and now Udacity has taken on corporate training.

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Trainer styles – don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Have you ever judged a trainer’s performance by how do her slides or flipcharts look like? Are there nice pictures included, or triggering messages written on them? Such visuals are only providing a superficial perspective of a training, they are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’: the slides and flips are there only to complete the learning objectives, to help passing on the main message. The real learning happens by doing exercises or by providing a new, triggering perspective about the given training topic, whilst also providing the space for reflection.

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Training preparation – the start of a training workflow

The key to a good training is preparation. General rule of thumb says, when preparing a standard training you should spend around 3 hours of preparation for 1 hour of training. And this just covers the average case, while if you are new to a given training topic or the topic is rather complex, the time spent can increase drastically.

But what is considered preparation? The preparation can include communicating to your clients and/or participants, drafting the training outline, arranging the logistics, creating/updating the training materials, etc. If we take the mentioned formula, for a one day training workshop a good preparation would take 2-3 days. Can all these elements of preparation fit in such a short time?

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TrainedOn moved to Tallinn

Tallin pic by XisPics

We have been quiet for some time, but things are about to change. We recently moved to Tallinn as we got selected for a startup accelerator – Startup Wise Guys. Finally we are in one place and fully dedicated to work on TrainedOn in order to develop a valuable service for the training community.

First two and a half weeks have passed by extremely fast mainly due to so much activities and energy. The greatest value of the accelerator for us is the network it provides. Starting with the mentors and investors that we meet, who guide us with the right questions, pieces of advice and play around with the ideas. Extending from there some of them even deliver training themselves or at least they know the corporate educators. Not only have we been introduced to some of the most prominent trainers in Estonia, we are getting more and more contacts all around the world and this has lead us to quite extensive validation phase of TrainedOn’s potential value for trainers.

Training world is vast and very diverse which means that we can’t cover everything from the start therefore we are working on figuring out the where we can help the trainers the most. Soon, after some more interviews, we will publish a survey to ask you what are your training related practices. So stay tuned and leave us comments.

TrainedOn Team

Welcome to Delivery Matters!

Here you will find stories written by a team of young trainers with a common background in a youth organisation, who are passionate about education and lifelong learning. We are also excited about technology and we always try to see how it can help us in what we do.

Over the years we have tried various tools in preparing our training content. We used mind maps for brainstorming and creating quick outlines, text documents for writing down specific procedures and spreadsheets for training schedules. These tools may be good enough for a specific task, but not for iterating them in an collaborative manner. And training preparation is exactly that, an iterative and collaborative process. From working with our clients, trying to understand their needs, to flipping through our archives in search for a perfect exercise, the process for us was never linear and straightforward.

After gathering input from other professional communities we realised that we are not alone. This is a global need and we want to address it – with TrainedOn™!

Like with training preparation, understanding the needs of the people is important when creating a service such as TrainedOn™. Therefore, we summoned this blog to life in order to strengthen the community and raise a discussion about training, non-formal education, and the technology that supports them.

Our aim for TrainedOn™, in the big picture, is to provide an interactive and fun place for all the parties of the training world. We want to help trainers to focus more on the content and quality of the training they provide. One of our heroes, Sir Ken Robinson, said in his TED talk, “It is education that is meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp”. Therefore, it’s important for everybody to constantly develop themselves and trainers have a great role in this. We believe that, in the end, delivery is what matters.

Let’s keep delivering!
TrainedOn Team