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Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470122433
ISBN-10: 0470122439
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

What makes great business teams stand apart? Some senior executive teams are undaunted by even the toughest business challenges, overcoming them and even using them as opportunities to transform the way their organization operates and performs.

In Great Business Teams, renowned business consultant Howard M. Guttman takes you inside some of the world's most successful corporations—Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Mars Incorporated, and L'Oréal, to name a few—to discover how a powerful new high-performance horizontal model has changed the way leaders lead, team members function, challenges are met, and decisions are made. He also reveals how and why the organizations that have implemented this innovative team structure have become great companies, able to ride the crosscurrents during lean times and truly soar when opportunities arise.

Guttman bases his keen insights on more than twenty-five years of work with major corporations. In Great Business Teams, you will meet thirty-nine senior executives from twenty-five standout companies, whom he has interviewed in depth and whose performance he has tracked over time. This hands-on guide delivers all of the insights, techniques, and hard-won wisdom needed to create, operate, and sustain well-run and effective business teams that consistently achieve the highest levels of performance.

Follow Novartis Oncology's CEO and his action teams as they successfully neutralize a competitor's new product, which had been projected to grab twenty to thirty percent of market share. Learn how newly reorganized teams in Mars Inc.'s Latin American Division moved from double-digit losses to double-digit growth in a single year. These and many other tales from the trenches show you how to:

  • Ratchet up team performance to get stellar results year after year

  • Become a high-performance leader and motivate others to become high-performance players

  • Align teams to drive up performance

  • Redefine the concept of individual and team accountability

  • Develop the skills to make every team member a leader

  • Improve results through the "distributive decision-making" model

  • Create great teams throughout your organization

Great teams do more than improve a company's performance; they continually raise the bar and redefine what "high performance" means. Read Great Business Teams, crack the code, and transform your organization into teams of highly motivated top performers who are ready, willing, and able to respond to any business challenge.

From the Back Cover

Praise for


"Our managing board has been working with Howard Guttman, and his impact on our organization has been remarkable. His book provides a depth of strategic insight into how best to drive up organization performance. Along the way, he explains the high-performance 'horizontal' vision, dissects its implications for leaders and their teams, and advances an important new concept of 'distributive power.' The senior team examples make this book uniquely relevant to C-suite players."
—Massimo F. D'Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Americas Beverages

"Several years ago, with Howard Guttman's guidance, Mars North America embarked on the journey to high performance. Today, our organization is living proof that high-performing teams are the basis of high-performing businesses. Great Business Teams provides an excellent guide to companies that would like to embark on a similar journey."
—Robert J. Gamgort, President, North America, Mars Incorporated

"Great Business Teams is an original and provocative approach to building high-performing teams. Howard Guttman digs deeply into the dynamics of organizational life to discover the 'code' for standout performance, which enables leaders and their teams to achieve significant results now and well into the future."
—Frances Hesselbein, founding President and Chairman of the Board of Governors, Leader to Leader Institute; Recipient, Presidential Medal of Freedom

"Great Business Teams presents a compelling case for having teams work horizontally to achieve standout performance. Howard Guttman's recommendations promote a 'speak up' mentality, which ultimately leads teams to significantly increase innovation and efficiency. This book will challenge your management assumptions and change the way your leaders lead."
—Vicki Rawlinson, Vice President and Global Head, Human Resources, Novartis Oncology

"Howard Guttman's book puts into context what it means to actually develop high-performing teams. This is much more than an academic exercise; it gives you practical ways to get started, at all levels of management, today. It is the key process I use for developing leaders and generating high performance within my organization."
—Michael E. Sneed, Company Group Chairman, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470122439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470122433
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many books come across my desk as a department chair, and I send most to junior faculty to read. I held on to this one because I couldn't put it down. Very well written. Flawlessly edited. Full of content and references to business. In my last book about leadership In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It (J-B Leader to Leader Institute/PF Drucker Foundation) I wrote about high performing teams in high risk contexts. But Guttman's book has much broader applicability and is laser focused on teams--it will soon be a classic among leaders and managers. It's the best book I read all summer. Great Business Teams will find its way into my classroom, but I'm even more excited about applying the ideas in this book to the teams that I help lead. This one's a gem. Tom Kolditz
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Format: Hardcover
Howard Guttman, author of Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance, heads a consulting firm that "specializes in building high performance teams." That is both the major strength and the major weakness of this book.

The strength is the stories about real business teams. The book gives you examples of effective teams in action. If that's what you're looking for, read no farther. This book is worth your time.

The major weakness of this book is that you're getting reports from an "echo chamber" where the author and his clients speak, reinforcing each other. But there are no independent or outside voices to be heard. There is no reality check about the effectiveness of recommendations.

According to Guttman, the book is "based on our work with and in-depth interviews of, 39 senior executives from 25 organizations." That causes at least three problems.

The book is only based on the work Guttman's firm has done. Decades of robust research into effective, high-performance teams have no place here. So you will not find out about effective teams sizes, for example, or the special situation of temporary teams and task forces.

The book is only based on conversations with Guttman's clients. You're getting what's worked for Guttman's firm in a subset of their engagements. You won't find stories of what didn't work. You won't find examples from outside the echo chamber.

The interviews are only with senior executives. Not with frontline workers. Not with analysts. You will not get those views of reality. For example, you will have to go elsewhere to discover that one of the companies featured in the book saw its stock drop 90 percent from the time Guttman's firm was working with them until the book's release.
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Format: Hardcover
It is sometimes those books and articles which bring business leaders back to basics that seem to have enduring impact. Great Business Teams is the kind of book that consultants, managers and executives will be referencing for years to come because it is both informative and well written. While we have all suffered through team situations that lacked the appropriate protocols, Howard has identified those that are key to achieving higher performance. I still can't believe he got so many executives to admit to their growing pains.
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Format: Hardcover
Howard Guttman draws upon several decades of wide and deep experience will thousands of executives within hundreds of companies throughout the world when offering in this volume everything he has learned about how developing high-performance individuals and teams will create and then sustain a high-performance organization. He asserts that there is a "code" to be cracked and cites several dozen examples of executives who have done so. He correctly points out that effective collaboration is essential at all levels and in all areas of an organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Moreover, the focus must be on cross-functional team initiatives.

"Great teams make great organizations. Period, Good and mediocre teams make good and mediocre organizations. They meet deadlines; they stay within budget; they maintain the status quo. But they do not push the envelope. They do not typically reach for performance breakthroughs. It is unlikely they will set the world on fire. And over the long haul, they will take you out of the game." According to Guttman, great business teams are led by high-performance leaders who create a "burning platform" for change, are visionaries and architects, know they cannot do it alone, build and nourish authentic relationships, model the behaviors they expect from their team members, and in unique and effective ways "redefine" the fundamentals of leadership. I wholly agree with Guttman that members of great teams are "us-directed": they tend to use only first-personal plural pronouns (i.e. we, us, our).
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Format: Hardcover
Books have been written about breaking virtually every code imaginable from The Bible Code to The DaVinci Code. However, none of those books hold the promise of helping your organization crack the code to breakout performance - but Howard Guttman's Great Business Teams does! Guttman's premise is that great organizations are comprised of great teams, and regardless of the size or type of the organization, each of those teams operate via a code. The code is the key to maximize performance. Guttman identifies that code as the "horizontal organization" or a cultural construct that helps streamline decisions; champions collaboration; values individual accountability and teamwork; fosters speedy conflict resolution and rewards results. Make no mistake, this book is not a theoretical exercise written by some stuffy academician. The author distills his decades of experience as a business consultant into digestible, real-world examples of the horizontal model already in action across several of the world's most successful companies. He also explains what it takes to get there. While cracking Guttman's code may not be a panacea for every competitive need a company may have, it can help an organization deliver exceptional performance within a fierce marketplace, which is why Soundview highly recommends this book.
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