Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

Success of any Team has many ingredients. What differentiate a great team and a bad team is the lack of many of these fundamentals. Every successful team has its own uniqueness that stand them apart from the rest. There are innumerable books on the leaders of successful team or organisations. Despite of these uniqueness, there are few common factors that is essential to the success of a team. Lack of these fundamentals can be attributed to the failure of team, however great the individuals of the team are. Patrick Lencioni, in his celebrated book, discusses these dysfunctions of every unsuccessful team.
According to him , the five dysfunctions are :

Absence of Trust — unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
Fear of Conflict — seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
Lack of Commitment — feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
Avoidance of Accountability — ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior sets low standards
Inattention to Results — focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success

Book consists of two parts. Part one, written in a parable style, looks at the proceedings at a Silicon Valley startup, currently struggling, despite some great individuals at the helm. Generally young, tech savvy leadership team is put under a newly appointed 55 year old, lady CEO, from the typical old school back ground. In her attempt to re-build the team , she exposes the short comings of the team in her initial off-site meeting of her leadership team. The next few chapters examines these dysfunctions among the team and set to address them by her own ways and style. They go through anger, frustration, despise, fear, rejection and various other emotions. The team goes through the inner turmoil , doing their own introspection, getting their act together during the next couple of leadership meetings. They also go through removal of certain leaders, and the often heard restructuring before, as it always end, in bringing back to the path to success.

The initial part is written like a fiction, with all those twists and turns, the anxiety, the deception and suspense. Most of the chapters are in the form of meeting room discussions, and conversations. it is in this part, he introduces the concept of five dysfunctions. But, the part 2 of the book gets into the serious discussion. There are no stories here. In a typical text book manner, he examines each of these dysfunctions at length, their pros and cons, the symptoms and the recommendations to overcome them in a more practical and actionable terms. Very crisp and concise, this part is the creame of the book.

Typical to any management , self development books, this too does not provide you with any new insights. You go through the familiar "I know this already" feeling. However, the second part makes the difference. Personally, I found this book pretty good and presented neat, despite the 'novel' approach in the part one. This is a good read for any first or second line managers, who lead complex teams.

Times Group

229 Pages
Other links: Wiki, Table Group

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