How many of you have been or are in teams that look something like this?

circles with arrows bouncing out of them

It sucks.

A is where one person is doing too much work. This happens in stretched and underfunded teams. It also happens because of a bias. People will say, X never asks for help or they are not organised enough. People may not speak up because of the sexist, racist, classist, fill-in-the-blank bias scrutinising their work.

For example: a black woman will likely have to work five/ten times harder than her white male colleague, for the same recognition and promotion. Because planet Earth is racist and sexist, among other things.

B is structureless. It is individual personalities doing their own thing, fighting for recognition. There is no clear leadership, governance or accountability. It has an irresponsible culture which results in high turnover. Most people can not thrive here. It relies on people knowing how to swim rather than being shown how. The swimmers learnt how to swim in privileged institutions that most of us are not allowed to play in; so we drown or look like this:

Blue blob gaspng for air cartoon

If you are nodding your head to any of the above, you are working in a disorganisation. Make it a priority to change it; even if it’s benefitting you. Stop staring at your belly button, hoping it all sorts itself out; there is a better way.

An organisation

a box with circles and arrows that look like a snowflake

C is an organisation. Everyone here matters to the success of the team. The team is run by 6-8 people. Any more than that and you struggle to coordinate/function effectively. Any less and people are spread too thin. We are not turning people away from the work. Each new person is developed to be successful in their role, and in time can build a new team. In organising this is called snow-flaking; because it looks like a snowflake. In organising, snowflakes build blizzards.

snowflake image with a number of circles and arrows

Each person has a role that benefits and supports everyone else. We are awake to who is being given leadership roles, conscious that our team needs to look and function in the same way we would like the world to be run: justly.

The work is delegated so no one person is left with all the tasks. There is a scaffolding of leadership. The team’s results do not end up with just one person. It doesn’t even end with one team. People can leave, new people can enter and it will be ok.

You need to be building your team around structure C. It is the foundation of how our work survives the long fight.