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As with listenership, teamship is often disregarded or overlooked in favour of leadership. But for a team to be really effective, everyone in it needs to be included and valued and able to contribute fully. It is often thought that a great leader will get the most out of a team of people, and whilst there is truth to that, very often ideas and creativity are stifled due to the pre-conceived agendas of managers set up as leaders. Real leadership is more subtle, as discussed in the Leadership Cornerstone page.

Following Fritjof Capra's, elucidation of the Santiago Theory of Cognition, it can be concluded that consciousness arises as a spontaneous, emergent property of cognition, where cognition is defined as "living as a process" (1)(2). For Elon Musk, a company is "a cybernetic collective of people and machines...where everyone connected to it is collectively programming the AI" (3).  Considering these two thought paradigms, we can say that a company, or other organisation, is in itself a living entity with a certain level of cognition and consciousness.

The team of people that forms an organisation, and the multiple teams within larger organisations, are part of a larger cognitive process. That whole process needs to work harmoniously and effectively. Consider the organs in the human body. They all work together to achieve the aim of continuing life (cognition) in the whole body, but also function within themselves as communities of cells undertaking their functions. When adverse conditions arise, organs kick into gear to solve problems, often spontaneously and without direction - think of digestion and of kidneys filtering the blood.

Teams forming organisations, and teams within organisations, are like organs in the body. Connection together is important. The systems of communication are vital. And some overall awareness and control is necessary. But organs, and teams, need the ability to spontaneously, effectively and creatively respond to changes in order to ensure the maximum cognition and consciousness of the whole system. Too much control and rigidity brings failure.


Teamship is about investing in the health and vitality of communities of practice and ackowledging and respecting that each has its vital part to play in the organisation as a whole. Moreover, it is about facilitating a culture in which each person in each team feels valued and able to contribute their maximum. When that is achieved, the ability, dynamism and creativity of the whole organisation improves dramatically.

1. Capra, F/Luigi, Pierre L.(2014): The Systems View of Life. Cambridge University Press.

2. Maturana, Humberto R./Varela, Francisco J. (1980): Autopoiesis and Cognition. The Realization of the Living. Dordrecht: Reidel, p. 13

3. Elon Musk on the (now quite controversial!) JRE Podcast -

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