When the pursuit of teamwork may be useless

This is a brief illustration about the limitations of teamwork in a global organizing. My claim is that at a certain level of global complexity, teamwork is impossible to achieve because the value of teamwork runs too counterculture to much of the world.

The team I will describe is the “Global Presales Team”  headed by Paul Sinclair.

The mission of this Presales team is to prepare material for potential clients world wide, coordinate with marketing on “one message to the install base”, set the stage for Sales and client to be aligned around a product road map, and support the sales teams on technical matters.

The 4 presales members of the Global Presales Team function in a matrix: Paul is the corporate boss in HQ, and each presales person reports to a different area boss: Manfred is the boss in Europe and FSU; Gilad in the Middle East and Africa, Jimmy in Asia/Australia and Fred in North America.

The 4 team members of the Presale team are violently pushed and pulled in different directions by their area bosses who want  more customer visits  and Paul Sinclair, who wants the team to create presales material of global value.  (The corporate culture states “one team/one company” as a major value).

Paul Sinclair believes that the Presales is failing  because there is simply too little teamwork and synergy to meet shared global priorities. Well,  Paul may be right about the failure, but he is wrong about the diagnosis. Paul, Gilad, Manfred, Fred and Jimmy disagree on how to integrate conflicting priorities.

Jimmy, the Head of Sales in Asia has told his presales representative that he expects 100% loyalty. Jimmy  has told his presales manager that if there are clashes of interest between what Jimmy wants and what Paul  wants, Jimmy will solve these issues.

Fred, the Head of Sales in North America, has told his presales representative to “solve priority conflicts on your own, using your best judgement””.

Manfred, the Head of Sales in Europe+FSU is pushing for a “system” to coordinate conflicting priorities between Sales and Presales, because “we cannot push the priority management down, only up, to align with the master plan.”

Gilad, the Head of Sales for Mid East and Africa, has created his own presales team “under the radar” to serve his needs, allowing “Paul’s lackey to do what he wants”.


The basic assumptions about how to regulate conflicting priorities is meeting with too many conflicting basic cultural assumptions. Gilad is a cowboy and “works around a broken system like matrix management”. Manfred wants a system to regulate  a perfect reality, Fred wants empowered individuals to work out complexity and Jimmy wants a serf, because Jimmy does not care about anyone’s goals except his own.

So Paul ‘s pursuit of teamwork seems a bit futile.

Paul has asked VP HR for help, and she has recommended that the presales team do some outdoor training to “work out their issues to support our value of “one team/one company.”

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