When productive team members combine their efforts to achieve a common goal, the team can unlock world-class results. CMOE works with leaders and teams across the globe, and we have found three primary facets of exceptional teamwork performance that make a team unstoppable: I, We, and It.

I, We, and It.

I: Each team member makes a unique contribution to the team. When individuals understand how they fit and why they matter to the success of the group, the team can leverage each person’s unique strengths. Exceptional teams acknowledge the talents, personality, interests, and role of each member.

We: The team has the ability to join forces and function as an integrated unit. Team members share information freely and collaborate to solve problems. Tasks are coordinated to avoid duplication of effort. There is a true sense of camaraderie and cohesiveness.

It: The team has a clear sense of purpose. Together, team members are able to add value and drive results for the organization. The team understands its mission and knows what it must accomplish. The team members have established relationships with key partners and know how to measure and monitor the satisfaction of their customers.

Achieving Equilibrium and Balance

When they’re balanced, these three facets allow a team to overcome any challenge and operate at peak performance. Teams with the I, WE, and It in balance have a culture of trust, and individual team members take personal accountability for the team’s results. However, this equilibrium can often be difficult for teams to achieve.

There are many signs that a team is suffering. Individuals or entire teams may

  • Engage in destructive behavior that is hurtful to others, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Operate with a “play-it-safe” mentality.
  • Feel entitled to rewards without making a contribution.
  • Deny that their processes need to change to achieve synergy and results.

Four Stages of Development

According to research by Bruce Tuckman, teams go through four distinct stages of development. During the “forming” stage, team members get to know each other and become familiar with the goals, structure, and challenges they will face as a team. After forming, teams often experience conflict. This is known as the “storming” stage. Competition arises as the team works to understand how they will operate collectively. Once they find ways to function and work together, they have entered the “norming” stage. They reach the fourth stage of development, “performing,” once they are able to develop a sense of unity and perform their work as an integrated, cohesive unit.

It should be said that even teams that have reached the “performing” stage will not reside there forever. When organizations experience change that has an impact on team leadership or individual members of the team, sometimes teams will regress to a previous stage. Even high-performing teams sometimes experience challenges that cause a dip in productivity.

Learn More

CMOE works with leaders and teams to help restore the I, We, It balance. Our consultants can work with you to assess your team’s stage of development and determine the best possible courses of action for helping the team reach or return to a high level of performance.

Teamwork building structure out of noodles and marshmellows

We use a variety of team-building, training, and coaching methods to move teams forward. Our consultants have helped team members working in large and small businesses alike in numerous ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Develop tolerance and appreciation for individual differences
  • Communicate more effectively and share candid feedback
  • Develop a clear team mission and vision
  • Share leadership responsibility
  • Foster a culture of smart risk-taking that leads to innovation
  • Overcome roadblocks in the way of the team’s success

Complete a request form on the CMOE website to find out more about how we can help you.

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About the Author


CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.