Purpose of Tips for High-Impact Teamwork Series

Tyler Reimschisel, MD, MHPE

By Tyler Reimschisel, MD

Now that we have begun a new academic year, I would like to welcome faculty, staff and students back to our community at Case Western Reserve University. I hope you had ample opportunity to relax and rejuvenate over the summer.

As I did at the beginning of the academic year last fall, I would like to again review the purpose of this Tips for High-Impact Teamwork series and to clarify some of the foundational terminology that I will use in these articles on effective teamwork.

The purpose of this series is to help faculty, staff and students at Case Western Reserve as well as employees at our partner organizations improve how they engage within their teams. I hope the content of the articles in this series will help your teams have higher impact. 

What is a high-impact team? Based on the work of my friend and colleague Tony Lingham, a former graduate student and adjunct faculty member at Weatherhead School of Management, high-impact teams have several characteristics:

At the level of the individual team member, high-impact teams are composed of individuals who are effectively contributing to the task-oriented work of the team. They are “pulling their own weight” to complete their roles and responsibilities on the team’s tasks. It is also helpful to have at least a few members on the team who have a team-orientation mindset. These individuals "get teams" and are team-savvy.    

At the level of the team itself, high-impact teams have both high functionality and high productivity. A high level of functionality means the internal dynamics of how team members interact with one another within the team is of the best quality. Their communication, interpersonal relationships and connections are excellent. In addition, high productivity relates to the team’s outcomes, output and deliverables. In high-impact teams, these services and supports are also of the best quality. 

Finally, at the level of the systems within which the team works, high-impact teams have a positive influence on the organizations they represent and engage with. High-impact teams are certainly affected by the systems they work within and, at the same time, high-impact teams act as positive change agents within those same systems. They may not be able to fully alter the work environment or culture, but they definitely move the work ecosystem in a positive direction. 

High-impact teamwork requires effectiveness at the individual, team and system levels. Given the inherent variabilities at each of these levels, teams are complex, organic entities. This variability creates amazing opportunities for creative collaboration and impressive productivity. Yet these complexities must also be intentionally considered and managed in order to mitigate against inefficiencies, ineffectiveness or frank dysfunction. My hope is that the articles in this series will help you and your team maximize the potential of your teams while addressing challenges that inevitably arise within teams.

This fall, I plan to explore how we can improve our teamwork by applying what we are learning from cognitive psychology about how our brain processes, interprets and responds to activity in the external world, including how our brains “engage with” the brains of our co-workers who co-inhabit the worlds we live in. We will discuss topics such as perception, cognitive biases, naïve realism, the illusion of insight and the importance of perspective getting instead of perspective taking. We will carefully consider the process of decentering within a team—intentionally complementing our solitary and preeminent view about the team and its work with a collective and shared understanding of the multiple perspectives, interpretations and lived experiences of our teammates. I am excited to unpack and probe these topics with you! 

Through the upcoming articles in this series, I hope to persuade you that decentering can be a challenging but extremely beneficial practice for individuals and teams who want to improve their efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and impact.  

You can access previous articles in this series by visiting the Tips for High-Impact Teamwork page on our office’s website

If there are topics you would like to read about in this series or questions you have about teamwork, please contact me at tyler.reimschisel@case.edu. Go team!


Lingham T and Richley B. High-Impact Engagement: A Two-Phase Approach for Individual and Team Development. iUniverse, 2018.