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“Five Dysfunctions” Book May Help Streamline Your Teams

18 May 2009 Written by: Jorge Lazaro Diaz 3 Comments

I read “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” the first time several years back when I was researching leadership and team dynamics. I’ve always enjoyed building teams and understanding why some work and some don’t. This book explores the topic and describes a simple formula for identifying what works, what doesn’t work, and what to do about it.

The book subtitle is “A Leadership Fable.” It’s two hundred or so pages are written in large print so you can get through the whole thing in a few hours. It’s about a fictitious Silicon Valley technology company that is clearly struggling. The board has decided to demote the company’s founder and replace him with an outsider. The new CEO, Katherine, makes a point of spending her first few weeks observing the executive management team. It’s an interesting bunch, but no more interesting than a lot of the people I’ve worked with over the years.

She takes little action until she holds her first executive off site retreat a few weeks into her tenure. There she tackles the team problems head on. She gets the push back you would expect from a team that’s been doing things wrong for a while, but by addressing the shortcomings the team starts making progress. The team takes some forward strides, then falls back. Some of the team members embrace the changes, others dislike it and quit. As the story progresses, she shows the team (and the reader) how a lack of trust among team members leads to poor results and what are the root causes that need to be addressed. Using a simple pyramid drawing, she shows how the concepts work together for success.

The book reads well and illustrates the lessons very clearly. It doesn’t seem contrived. On the contrary, it sounds more like real life than I would like to admit. What I most like about the book is that it breaks down the issues that makes teams work and shows how the dysfunctions, if allowed to fester, lead to poor performance. It can easily be used to teach leaders to explore where they may want to make changes for making poor teams better and good teams great.

When I interviewed with my current boss, I noticed she kept a copy on her shelf. I saw this as a good thing. After working with her a few months, I asked to borrow it. It was a good refresher and helped me put into words what I know in my gut and how to put it into practice.

Please share your thoughts on this book. I’d really like to know what you think.

Jorge Lazaro Diaz

Jorge Lazaro Diaz is the "Original" Career Jockey who started this blog and now serves as the Managing Editor. You'll find he enjoys focusing on professional and personal development articles and frequently covers motivational and spiritual topics.

You can learn so much about this author by clicking here.


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