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X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1415709094
ISBN-10: 1591396921
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“…comfortable reading…has some excellent advice for internal functioning of teams.” (Globe & Mail 2007-09-26)

About the Author

Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and faculty director of the MIT Leadership Center.

Henrik Bresman is Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a degree in Economics (MSc) from the Stockholm School of Economics.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591396921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486683591
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Years ago, I read Organizing Genius in which co-authors Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman examine a number of what they call "great groups" that reveal "the secrets of creative collaboration." One of their most important points is introduced in the first chapter: "None of us is as smart as all of us." That is to say, the "Great Man" theory is invalidated by the achievements of truly creative teams such as those at the Disney studios which produced so many animation classics; at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which developed the first personal computer; at Apple Computer which then took it to market; in the so-called "War Room" which helped to elect Bill Clinton President in 1992; at the so-called "Skunk Works" where so many of Lockheed's greatest designs were formulated; at Black Mountain College which "wasn't simply a place where creative collaboration took place. It was about creative collaboration"; and at Los Alamos (NM) and the University of Chicago where the Manhattan Project eventually produced a new weapon called "the Gadget."

I mention all this by way of introducing my reactions to X-Teams in which Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman assert that in recent years, the world has changed and the old model (i.e. one with an internal focus but lacking an external approach) "doesn't work so well anymore." The title of this book refers to teams that lead, innovate, and succeed in a rapidly changing environment. According to Ancona and Bresman, an X-team differs from a traditional team in three main ways. "First, to create effective goals, plans, and designs, members must go outside the team; they must have high levels of external activity...Second, X-teams combine all of that productive activity with extreme execution inside the team.
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Format: Hardcover
Much of the literature you read on building teams in the workplace deal with the internal interactions of the group... how they get along, building morale, etc. Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman offer up a different take on team success in the book X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed. Given my experience over the years, their methodology is likely to be more successful than the conventional approach.

Contents:
Part 1 - Why Good Teams Fail: Into a Downward Spiral; A Changing World
Part 2 - What Works: X-Team Principle 1 - External Activity; X-Team Principle 2 - Extreme Execution; X-Team Principle 3 - Flexible Phases; X-Factors - The X-Team Support Structure
Part 3 - How To Build Effective X-Teams: Tools for X-Teams - From Theory to Action; Crafting an Infrastructure for Innovation - The X-Team Program; X-Teams - Distributed Leadership in Action
Notes; Index; About the Authors

The most noticeable difference between the conventional team and the X-Team is the focus of their activity... external. Instead of spending time waiting for the team to gel and feel secure, waiting for the rules and directions to be established, Ancona and Bresman advocate for an external focus. Get out in the field immediately and start talking to the potential customers and clients. This tilt towards immediate action may well lead to a moderate level of confusion and frustration on the team in the early days, but the net result is a quick start and insights that can't be gleaned from existing knowledge. Couple this with active "ambassadorship" and flexible membership and team roles, and things get done rather than just being talked about.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
X-Teams is great book for those who participate on or manage any type of team within the corporate environment. The theme is that successful teams spend more time externally focused rather than internally focused on their team itself. The last 1/3 of the book are very practical tools and tips for establishing and managing successful teams. These are concepts learned from countless interviews and intensive research over the years by the leadership team at MIT. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Years of research show that a team that focuses solely on internal team building is likely to fail. The "X-team" emphasizes external activity, and a flexible membership and leadership structure. Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman write that such a team is not only more likely to succeed, but will often exceed managerial expectations. This book, divided into three sections, tells you why some teams fail, how to create one that works and how to manage it through every phase of a project. The authors make liberal use of examples from major corporations, such as BP and Microsoft, to illustrate all their principles. The terminology is somewhat proprietary, but the approach makes a great deal of sense. We recommend this book to managers and team members alike.
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Format: Hardcover
X-Teams is a well-written book on teams with an important new message. This is: well working teams should look outside as much as inside. In this review, I doubted between a 3 and a 4 star rating, though I decided on 4 stars.

The book is divided in 3 parts. The first part tries to explain why our mental model about teams might result into bad teams. The second part is the main content of the book and it talks about what X-Teams are and how you can try to create them. The third part talks about implementation issues.

Part 1 shows examples of teams which follow traditional team models and yet fail. Their mistake is that they are too much inwards focused and do not pay attention to the changing world out there.

Part 2 explains what X-Teams are. X-Teams are based on 3 principles:

- External activity
- Extreme execution
- Flexible phases

External activity is the main principle and it focuses on the fact that teams need to not just focus on themselves but at the same time keep in touch with the outside environment and coordinate their work within their context. Teams do this by scouting outside, coordinating their work with others and staying in contact with the management. Extreme execution is about the team work itself. Even though they need to keep track with the outside, they still need to get work done and focus on the work inside the team also! Principle one and two together give a balanced message about teams. The third principle is, in my opinion, somewhat odd compared to the first two. It talks about that teams typically need to go through three phases and what they need to do in these phases.

The rest of part two talks about building a team support structure.

Part 3 talks about the implementation of X-Teams.
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