Teams vs Projects
As someone who spends a lot of time translating between different mental models - biology, data science, software engineering, etc. - I try not to get hung up on specific words. But I think there’s an important psychological difference between organizing work in terms of projects vs in terms of teams.
Projects tend to be the default: You have some work to do, and when you collect all that work in one place, what you have is a project. A team, on the other hand, could be working on lots of different projects at once, or maybe you have multiple teams working on one project. Teams tend to be long-term, stable concepts while projects have beginnings and ends.
Teams and projects also trigger different kinds of mental models: Projects are governed by task models, which cover things like the types of tools available, and the circumstances in which you would use them. Teams, on the other hand, are governed by team mental models, which cover things like who’s on the team and when/how you should communicate with them.
So something interesting happens when you start to think and talk in terms of short-term teams that form at the beginning of a project and disband when it’s done. When you make this explicit, you address both task and team mental models, and begin the process of creating a shared model. Now the project team knows not only the work they need to do, but who they need to communicate with. They’ll feel more comfortable asking for help from a teammate and they’ll know who they’re going to celebrate the victory with.
From a practical standpoint, there isn’t a big difference between calling it a project or a project team. But when it comes to building shared mental models, a project team will get you there much faster.