I have been thinking about different kinds of teams and team work. For example a choir has sheet music (“Let Men Their Songs Employ”) that predefines the content and timing of each person’s contribution. In a different way the script for a play outlines the content and sequence of each actor’s part.
What is it about a choir that their voices blend and combine to create an effect that any one singer could never achieve. Each singer is playing a different part in a common synchronized script. A pit crew servicing a race car achieves a similar effect, each member playing a tightly scripted role for a common purpose.
Each team in tug of war combines their strength along a single dimension of action in what is probably the simplest example of team work. A more complex collaboration is what an improv comedy troupe does during a performance in response to inputs from the audience. Soccer teams have fluid configurations that respond to the position and vector of the ball, combining individual skill in both offensive and defensive plays.
All of these teams are synchronizing their efforts to achieve a common goal, in most cases each member has a different role to play that leverages their talents and abilities. I think a high function startup team looks like this, balancing the efforts needed for product development, customer development, and company development in a dynamic environment that includes an evolving competitive response.