Thinking Teams, Thinking Clients: Knowledge-Based Teamwork

Thinking Teams, Thinking Clients: Knowledge-Based Teamwork

Thinking Teams, Thinking Clients: Knowledge-Based Teamwork

Thinking Teams, Thinking Clients: Knowledge-Based Teamwork

Synopsis

Addressing a key concern in human service and other organizational settings concerned with effective teamwork, this book offers a new paradigm for conceptualizing the subject. Based on qualitative research conducted with teams working with the chronically ill, elderly, and with high-risk psychiatric patients, Anne Opie has developed a method of working with teams that focuses on teamwork as "knowledge work" and is applicable to a variety of disciplines and settings. Most discussions of teamwork have focused on the team players, notably their interpersonal relationships. Drawing on Foucauldian theories of discourse, Thinking Teams / Thinking Clients provides a postmodern analysis of teamwork that stresses working with professional knowledge in an organizational context. It stresses the need for different kinds of disciplinary knowledge in teams, and discusses the role of organizations in achieving more effective teamwork.

Excerpt

In 1992, as part of a differently focused study, I observed social workers in action in multidisciplinary health teams in New Zealand. in one of these teams there was a considerable amount of bonhomie, laughter, and joking (occasionally against the patients). in a relatively strict order of speaking, the various health professionals reported back on their work with each patient, and decisions were made about discharge. This team was considered a good one to be on because people got along well and there were lots of jokes, which mitigated the overall stress of the work. There were, nonetheless, occasions when some of the social workers spoke angrily outside of the meetings about how decisions were made and about which members of the team held power, and they outlined strategies by which they frustrated or held up decisions with which they did not agree.

Things did not run so smoothly on another team. No one said much about the work that they, as individual health professionals, were carrying out with patients. the tension in the air could have been cut with a knife. in individual interviews with me all team members spoke angrily and often at considerable length about the professional (and at times personal) shortcomings of a particular associate (as it happened, a social worker), who, in his turn, bitterly castigated them (Opie 1995). the only point of agreement was that this was not a good team.

It was easy to arrive at the conclusion that this second team was dysfunctional. For all the seeming smoothness and good humor of the first team, however, I became skeptical about agreeing too readily with the . . .

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