Here's a quick joke for context - When is a door not a door? When it's ajar.
When is a team not a team? When the goals, objectives and expectations of the members of the team aren't the same. Then, the "team" is merely a collection of people who have different agendas.
We are working with one such "team" right now. The dynamics are very interesting.
This team was nominally brought together to investigate some shortcomings in their current systems and to recommend new applications and systems to improve productivity. However, rather than adopt a common goal and set of expectations, each person has brought their own ideas and biases to the table.
One person is convinced that there is no problem with the current way of doing things. One person is convinced that all the team needs is to do what he suggests and that all other discussion is useless. One person has locked on to a large and expensive software application because the vendor told him it would meet his needs, which aren't the needs of the group. Another person in the team wants to implement several applications or custom solutions to solve several point problems and is not worried about integration. None of these folks has the vision to define the goals beyond their own special interests or needs.
Now, this may be a team in name, but it's not a team in spirit or outcome. Everyone is out to defend turf, to take on as few new responsibilities as possible and to get only what they want out of any new system with as few compromises as possible. No, this is not a kindergarten class but an actual example of a set of professionals who were supposed to be a team, but have not decided to work together yet for the common good.
Before you laugh or point fingers, ask yourself - are teams in our organization really that different? What common visions and goals do teams in our organization share? Are teams united for success across all members and functions of the team?
Successful teamwork is about getting everyone on the team, as much as possible, to work for the common good of the team and the organization, leaving aside as much as possible their personal or functional biases and "wins" to get what's best for the team and organization as a whole. Teams function very well when they have common goals and ideals, and not at all when they don't.
What we have in the team we are working with right now is simply a collection of individuals who are seeking to optimize their own personal agendas and goals rather than improve the working environment for the organization as a whole. The leadership of this organization is going to have to step in soon to force some goodwill and corporate goals on this group, or this will become a circular firing squad.
When is a team not a team? When it has no common objectives or goals.