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Using teams to avoid peripheral blindness

Cunha, M.P.E. and Chia, R. (2007) Using teams to avoid peripheral blindness. Long Range Planning, 40 (6). pp. 559-573. ISSN 0024-6301

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Abstract

Managers and organisations often aim to stay focused and have clarity of purpose in dealing with key business issues, challenges and targets. Yet, this narrow concentration of focus risks overlooking issues, events and transformations occurring at the periphery of corporate awareness that may threaten the survival of the organisation or provide opportunities for expansion. Being able to take in peripheral vision may therefore be crucial to an organisation's wellbeing. In this paper, we discuss how teams may play a crucial role in improving peripheral vision and awareness through their function and orientation. We identify a number of different functions of teams and develop a typology that shows how different types of teams orientate themselves in dealing with focal and peripheral issues. In particular we examine the cases of teams that are most orientated toward the periphery: minimally-structured and immersion teams, and show how each employs specific practices - namely zooming, improvisation, bricolage, scenario thinking, wild cards and weak signals - to sharpen peripheral vision and awareness.