From Publishers Weekly
The importance of teams has become a cliche of modern business theory, but few have a clear idea of what it means. In this new edition of their best-selling primer, Katzenbach and Smith try to impart some analytical rigor to the concept. Drawing on their experience as management consultants and a plethora of case studies at companies like Burlington Northern and Motorola, they cover such topics as the optimal size of teams, coping with turnover in team personnel and nurturing "extraordinary teams" rather than "pseudo-teams." Reacting against the touchy-feely interpersonal bent of discourse on teams, they emphasize hard-nosed principles of "performance, focus, and discipline," over the softer concerns of "communication, openness and 'chemistry.'" Teams, they argue, gel and achieve not by developing "togetherness," but by tackling and surmounting specific "outcome-based" challenges ("eliminate all late deliveries...within 90 days" rather than the vaguer "develop a plan for improving customer satisfaction."). Some of the authors' recommendations are reasonably precise and practical, but too many are nebulous truisms ("keep the purpose, goals, and approach relevant and meaningful") or weighed down by turgid consultant-ese ("integrating the performance goals of formal, structural units as well as special ad hoc group efforts becomes a significant process design challenge"). The case studies are better written, but it's not clear that these inspiring anecdotes of team triumph add up to a systematic doctrine. The book leaves the impression that teams ultimately just have to learn by doing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The authors, who are both consultants, conducted extensive interviews with companies to discover how successful teams are created and sustained. The result is not a research report but a collection of minicase histories and commentary. Some of the findings: Teams respond to performance challenges and not to managers' exhortations for more "teamwork." Organizations committed to high-performance standards and willing to modify individual accountability requirements experience the greatest success with teams. Successful team leaders are not necessarily those with remarkable leadership qualities. Instead, they "simply need to believe in their purpose and their people." Team leaders do real work, remove obstacles, and build trust and confidence. Recommended for larger public libraries and special business collections.- Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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