Did you ever stop to think that when we drive our cars we are utterly reliant on a vast number of people that we don't know all conforming to a common set of expectations and rules about driving? It's actually a fairly sophisticated thing we take for granted, and an interesting model for business.
When you consider it, one person driving a car alone on a highway is a relatively complex undertaking by itself. Adding other people driving other cars adds tremendous complexity, yet we seem to get by fairly well, with the vast majority of people getting where they want to go with little annoyance and few accidents. Why? Well, there are at least two reasons: a few very specific rules and a lot of commonly accepted etiquette, without which we'd be in a consistent traffic snarl.
As for those few rules, we know (at least in the US) to stay on the right and pass on the left. To stop at a red light or a stop sign. To remain in rough proximity to the speed limit (plus or minus a little bit). These rules and a few others are the ones that really govern the traffic safety and flow. Without these rules, we'd never get anywhere. There's also some etiquette - slower traffic keep to the right, signal when you are about to make a change, give way to the person on the right at an intersection. These little pieces of etiquette and others help reduce congestion and improve traffic flow.
OK, so now that I've reminded you about your driver's exam, what's all this got to do with workplace productivity and teamwork? Quite a bit. On a busy highway, the ONLY reason that a bunch of people who don't know each other and can't communicate with each other can drive safely and effectively is that they all abide by the same rules and etiquette, and have the strong expectation that everyone else will as well. If thousands of people driving automobiles can achieve successful traffic flow with no communication between them based on some commonly held beliefs, certainly our workplace teams can operate more effectively.
Look at the advantages a workplace team has over drivers on a highway. Team mates and co-workers know each other and can usually communicate very efficiently, through face to face interactions, the telephone and email. The team should be working to relatively common objectives and are compensated to achieve a result. In every way the workplace team has advantages over individual drivers on a highway. Yet, in many instances teamwork breaks down. I think that's because the "rules" that everyone should abide by weren't made clear or enforced, or there's not a common goal that everyone on the team is following.
On the highway, everyone's goal is to get where they are going as quickly and as safely as possible. Drivers know that the rules will be enforced, by other drivers or by the police. Who sets out the rules and expectations for your workplace team? Who enforces those rules? Who establishes the etiquette and expectations? How does your team achieve a common set of measurements and objectives? If a bunch of unattached people with little possibility of communication hurtling down a highway can achieve their goals and work together, certainly our workplace teams can do the same.