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High Five! The Magic of Working Together Hardcover – December 26, 2000
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Organizational guru Ken Blanchard has long had a knack for writing management books that are easy and fun to read (The One Minute Manager, plus 11 other bestsellers). Now, in his latest, he becomes (with the help of three coauthors) something of a novelist, relating the saga of the Riverbend Warriors, a come-from-behind boys' hockey team, to teach a broader lesson about the importance of, and the key dynamics behind, good teamwork in organizations of every sort.
High Five! starts with otherwise exemplary exec Alan Foster losing his job because--you guessed it--he isn't a team player. Unemployed, bored, and demoralized, he decides to coach his fifth-grade son's failing hockey team into better shape. But it's not until he enlists the help of Miss Weatherby, an aging African-American retired teacher and champion girls' basketball coach that things really start to turn around. As we follow the struggle of the increasingly well-oiled Warriors machine as they drill, strategize, and bond their way through the season, we learn some of the fundamental lessons of what makes good teams--and good team-building by coaches and managers. Among them are "repeated reward and repetition," the guiding notion that "none of us is as smart as all of us," and four key traits that shall here remain undisclosed (hint: their acronym spells PUCK).
As fiction goes, don't expect high literature here. But to its credit, the book's ending isn't 100 percent happy, either. If you worry that the aged but whip-smart Weatherby might die at the end, don't--instead, she becomes perhaps the world's first octogenarian, black female management consultant. As books on teamwork go, Blanchard's latest is on the lighter side, but it still packs a fair share of commonsense wisdom when it comes to putting together, motivating, and sustaining work teams worthy of the Stanley Cup. And it may even have inaugurated a new fiction genre: the organizational tearjerker. --Timothy Murphy
From Library Journal
Two best-selling business authors on teamwork.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The benefits of that are many. First, the players will get a role model of how to cooperate in order to be more effective. Second, the coaches will learn how to be better leaders, and will be able to use that skill in other areas of their lives. Third, the parents will learn what to encourage their children to do in order to get the most from the team experience, and this will bring parents and their children closer together.
The book's fable boils down to four key principles:
(1) The team needs a shared purpose, values and goals.
(2) Skills need to be developed individually that enhance the team's effectiveness.
(3) Enhance team effectiveness by integrating the individual skills properly.
(4) Repeatedly reward and recognize individuals for taking actions that enhance team effectiveness.
A weakness of the fable is that it doesn't give enough attention to how to achieve the first principle for the typical team. My suggestion is that you poll your players before the first practice to find out what their purposes, goals, and values are. Then hold a meeting to discuss what you learned, and build a consensus from there. My experience has been that 99 percent of the players want to have fun, want to improve, and win at least a few games. Be sure to find out what they think is "fun" because it's often different from what the coaches would assume. Fun usually turns out to be loosely supervised scrimmaging time. When that was the case, I ran a brief such scrimmage at the end of every practice until the last player was picked up by her or his parents.
The other place where I would like to make a suggestion is about recognition. I was a coach for 14 years, and I found that giving individual awards to every player for every game worked very well. Everybody does something right at least once in a game. I would make a note of it, describe the reasons for each award, and hand out a little token at the end of each game for each such award. At the end of the season, the player could turn in these tokens for other forms of recognition. I also shouted out the person's name and award when they won one. That way, each child could be a winner every time we played, even if the team lost. And we did not lose very often. The players loved to win those awards for passing, defense, and offense. Scoring accounted for well less than 10 percent of the awards in my experience.
This book has one of the best exercises I have ever seen for convincing people to work on team skills. You divide the players into the "best" math students and the least good ones. Then you teach the least good ones how to cooperate to win an addition game. You let the "best" math students struggle on their own. The least good ones will win almost every time. That will make quite an impression on the players about the importance of teamwork.
The book is probably intended to encourage teamwork on the job, as well. That translation will be harder for most to make. The work environment is mentioned relatively little in the book. Also, how is the sense of shared purpose, values and goals supposed to emerge? You may know how to do that from your own experience and reading other books, but most people reading this book will be at sea. Also, how do you decide which skills the team needs to work on? That is also something you may already know how to do, but most people do not. And the book doesn't explain. I'm sure you see the problem.
I do think that the book will be somewhat effective in making those who focus on their individual work performance rather than the company performance think twice. The analogy (not used in the book) that may help is of Michael Jordan. As a young player, he focused on his own statistics and the Bulls did not win championships. Later, he worked on making the other players better, and the Bulls won all the time. Phil Jackson, as coach, played an important role in that transition. That example will be known to most basketball fans.
Let me compliment the authors on their fable. I have read their other books, and this one is both more interesting and more heartwarming than the others.
After you have finished reading this book and applying its lessons to a coaching situation with youngsters, I suggest that you read "The Goal" and "The Fifth Discipline" to get ideas about how shared purposes, goals, and values can be developed in the workplace. These books will also give you many ideas about the skills that a business team needs in order to be more effective.
By the way, if one of your children or grandchildren is about to start a sport where you will not be coaching, I suggest you give a copy of this book to the coach and ask how you can help the team. He or she will undoubtedly get the message.
May your life be filled with high fives!
This would be a great read for our kid's coaches too!
This team NEVER won a tournament.
The new coach who joins this team analyses the problem and changes the reward mechanism.
The player who scored the goal gets 1 point.
The player who passed the puck to the scorer gets 2 points.
The goalkeeper who prevented a hostile goal gets 3 points.
There was also weightage for the factor (Goals scored/ No of strikes).
Suddenly this team starts playing differently. More goals are scored than before and the team starts winning match after match.
Alan Foster is this new coach. Alan had recently lost his job for lack of team skills. He is guided by Miss Weatherby, an aging African-American retired teacher and champion girls' basketball coach.
There is lots of similarity between a sports team and teams at the work place. This book is a superb training guide for scoring team goals - for the Organization.
The problem for me is putting the lessons into action.
This book summarizes a number of strategies for getting a team to work together. Like other Blanchard book it's a quick read (less than 3 hours if you're a reasonably fast reader).