l Project Team Competence
The basic work unit of projects is the team. Whether the project entails building a factory, carrying out basic research, designing a training curriculum, or developing a weapons system, the work is implemented by means of teams. Clearly an important determinant of project success, then, is the effective functioning of teams. Effective project management thus requires that organizations identify, nurture, and assess team competence.
This and the following chapter examine team competence by raising three basic questions: What is team competence? What must teams do to perform competently? and How does one assess whether a team is performing competently?
The first question is fairly easy to address. Competent teams are able to provide solutions faster, cheaper, and better than run-ofthe-mill teams. Thus team competence can be defined as those traits that enable teams to operate quickly and cost-effectively and to develop superior solutions to problems. The second question is a bit more difficult to answer because there is no single universally valid response. As these chapters show, some teams achieve competence by strengthening controls while others achieve it by loosening them and following Tom Peters's (1994) dictum to become disorganized. The third question is also difficult to answer. Assessing human performance is always tricky, for a number of reasons. Are the assessment instruments valid? Are the assessors capable of performing their job properly? Are the people being evaluated cooperating with the evaluation? If the answer to any of these questions is no, the value of the assessment is dubious.
Before addressing these three basic questions on team competence, it is helpful to understand what teams are and why they