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No ‘I’ in Team | A cliché for a Reason

by Eszter Lantos & clueQuest

published on

Everyone who has worked as part of a team at least once is guaranteed to have heard the title phrase of this article at least once. Where it once induced a sense of unity, it does little more these days than induce groans. But is its endurance not a signifier that its message is richer than it may appear? We certainly think so, and the following breakdown is my take on the meaning behind the cliché.


Why is it important?

We talk to our clients tirelessly about the importance of team learning, so let us start with why that is. Collaborative projects are becoming increasingly more prevalent than individual ones in the workplace.  We’re hearing an increasing amount of examples of companies pioneering team-based initiatives and embedding this approach in their people management processes. The word 'team' alone covers so many types within it: cross-functional; project; global teams; you name it. What is common though, is that these teams do not function in silos, but have to interact and collaborate to achieve shared business goals. When the team pulls together, everyone reaps the rewards. However, when the team faces challenges, everyone feels the repercussions.


What do we mean by learning culture?

We hear a lot recently that having a “learning culture” is key for successful organisations. There are many definitions of a learning culture, but the one I would like to highlight here is which focuses on its individual scope: when employees continuously seek, share and apply knowledge and skills to improve both their own - as well as the organisation’s - performance. Now imagine an ideal world full of high-performing “learning” individuals, shining stars of the organisation and put them all together in a team.


Would a bunch of high- performing individuals create a high-performing team?

Do you think their performance as a team and their collaborative achievements would be equally outstanding? Based on what we see at clueQuest, the answer is definitely not. What interests us, therefore, is how to create outstanding team performance. Needless to say, that is not the easiest task, but we are up for the challenge. When we talk about “performance culture” instead, we shift our focus from individuals to groups and consider methods, norms & behaviours that teams demonstrate in order to achieve an organisation’s desired results. (Jennings, C- Learning Live 2019)


What behaviours should be focused on?

 Keeping your employees in the loop is an evident essential when it comes to managing your team. But equally important yet often overlooked is considering how people feel when working together with each other. Recent publications also talk about the importance of emotions when it comes to learning. There is no effective learning without emotional involvement. We believe that we should focus on certain behavioural factors that help to leverage team brilliance, focusing on: interpersonal communication; collaboration; creativity; critical thinking and complex problem-solving.


How does clueQuest prove insightful?

Learning by its nature involves uncertainty and setbacks, just like a mission in an escape room. We at clueQuest see about 1,000 teams every month immerse themselves in a real-life game, testing the team’s capacity of achieving their goals within the escape room environment- in other words it’s an opportunity for observing team performance and learning. 

There is already a vast and growing theoretical interest in high performing teams due to its practical value to managers and people professionals. I believe clueQuest has something unique to add to this overall picture through immersive learning.



  • Learning Live Conference 2019

  • Nick Shackleton-Jones (2019) How people learn- Designing Education and Training that Works to Improve Performance, Kogan Page Publishers