Peter Senge, in his book the Fifth Discipline, writes about learning disabilities that affect teams, one being "I am my position" - I am an assistant, I am a broker, I am an agent, I am a marketer. Most people don't learn about the company as a whole and have very little interest in cross-training. Agents even establish themselves as buyer agents or listing agents, creating an even more limited identity, yet on the 2.0 team everyone will know everything about the different parts of the whole.
In reality, a modern agent should know all this anyway seeing as how a contractor is running a business. An assistant might be excused for limiting an identity to the role of assistant and blocking out the overall functions of a business, but even this limitation is not helpful, especially if the assistant is licensed. In a 2.0 real estate team everyone is constantly sharing their specialized knowledge. Even if a team member never has to play a different role it helps to understand how the company functions. Not understanding limits the effectiveness of interaction between different functions -- an assistant is better able to assist if he knows all the needs an agent has, and an assistant is better able to help create business if he understands the marketing plan.
An agent who understands the role of assistant knows the rules to play by so there is no misunderstanding about what to expect an how best to work effectively with an assistant. An agent who understands marketing can become a vital part of the marketing plan as it relates to the company/team. An agent who understands the role of leader knows how best to utilize the relationship with the leader. A listing agent who understands the role of buyer agents has a better handle on day to day interactions with buyer agents and buyers in each transaction.
Too many companies are filled with players who are blaming each other and working at cross purposes -- if an agent is struggling, they blame the supervisor, or company marketing, or the market itself, or other agents, or poor support. Once an agent becomes a vital working part of the system with input into each function they will begin to see their role more clearly and see themselves as part of the whole solution. The same goes for each "position" -- it's a team effort to accomplish the goal and everyone is systematically working toward the goal.
Most people think they learn from experience, but Senge says we learn very little from experience because the consequences are so far removed in time from the intial causes of the effects. This is why people get caught up in the blame game and begin working at cross purposes. When we make a poor business choice, the consquences of that choice may not be evident for months, and by this time we have lost the connection to the original decision, so we look for immediate causes of the consequences and don't stop to retrace the whole sequence of actions back to the cause.
Let's say you make a decision to lower your commission to attact sellers, and in the beginning it increases business. What you don't see as time goes on is that you are lowering the quality of your service because expenses are growing -- gas is higher, marketing costs grow for one reason or another. Let's say you are the expert in a certain area of town, an area where neighbors talk to one another. As the service deteriorates word of mouth is that you charge less but your service is poor. This talk has a moderate effect in the beginning, but not really noticable, then it gradually gets worse -- the service and the word of mouth -- until one day you realize you are hardly getting any business at all. You have come to believe you should be a favorite realtor because you save people money, so you start blaming the sellers for not recognizing what you are doing for them, you blame your assitant for not following up when she is already over-stretched and underpaid, you blame the company for not providing support, but the supervisor had warned about cutting commissions, you blame everyone except yourself. If you had been putting dollars into service you would have been gathering information about client satisfaction and monitoring results -- you would have known that people will pay a little more for excellent results.
In a team effort systems are monitored and all the players have constant input as to the efficacy of each marketing strategy. Systems thinking is taught on a regular basis and micro-models are studied to understand cause and effects. Can an individual agent do all this on their own? Maybe, but it becomes much more effective if 6 or 7 people are doing in a concerted effort to find what works best, to find the right balance -- to challenge each other when some players put on blinders and become defensive.
Experimenting and monitoring in a systematic fashion within a team effort will quicken learning and provide valuable feedback in a timely manner so that cause and effect are not disconnected. Again, the advantage is learning faster than the competition.
(picture from Chris @ Picasso)