The management guru Meredith Belbin is usually credited with the discovery of the Shaper.
His theory, which he tested to destruction, was that the more intelligent a team were the better they would perform. So when he worked with groups of business-people, setting them group tasks and observing their teamwork, he rigged the teams so the highest IQs were all in the same team.
Out of eight teams the clever ones consistently came fifth. Returning to a blank piece of paper, and trying to come up with a new theory, he analysed all his teams and, using psychometrics as well as observation of teams at work, he found the following team-types:
How do these work? A summary after each set then:
Team worker (keeps the team harmonious and working together as it proceeds)
Implementer (actually does things)
Resource investigator (knows someone who can help)
Shaper (provides energy, vision and drive)
Plant (has the ideas)
Specialist (the only self-explanatory one)
Completer finisher (tidies up, keeps records, proof-reads)
Monitor evaluator (checks it's being done properly)
Good teams have all types, although most people don't have one marked preference but two or three relatively equal ones. This means that a team of four or five will have most of the bases covered.
So what of these mysterious shapers? In the approximate words of Bryn Hughes, who trained me in all this some years ago. 'The shaper says, 'This is where we are going.' Opposition to that vision will probably make them more determined to go there. They will assume they haven't communicated the vision clearly enough and will work harder to achieve it. Hindrances, problems and let-downs will be their bread-and-butter. They love it. If there is more than one shaper in a team the rest of you may as well wear tin hats until they agree about the vision.'
The shaper is not necessarily the chair. In fact shapers can make poor chairs because they tend to bully.
But Belbin found that teams without them under-performed.
It costs £30 to do an individual on-line test, or an approved Belbin practitioner can come and take your team through it and help you work through the consequences.
When I worked at CPAS, in the youth and children's team, we used Belbin to analyse what team-type we were losing when someone left. It meant that, with several equally strong applicants for a job, we could look to replace missing team-roles and appoint appropriately.
Churches have different types of teams:
There is often overlap, but you can see how the absence of any:
Team worker skills might mean the people keep falling out
Implementer skills might mean there is lots of talk but no work
Co-ordinator skills might mean everyone is off doing their own thing
Resource investigator skills might mean we know no-one who can help
Shaper skills might mean no drive or enthusiasm
Plant skills might leave a team with no ideas
(Specialist skills usually have to be bought in)
Completer-finisher skills means lots of projects started but none finished
Monitor evaluator skills means we have no idea how we are doing, compared to budget in particular, and silly mistakes are consistently remade
In properly-sized working groups (5-8) a team will often only be missing one of the types. But what an impact that will have. So, what do you need?
Teams are great. No one of us is as smart as all of us.
Wild guesses as to what I am in the comments box if you wish.