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The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization Paperback – July 7, 1999
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"The Wisdom of Teams captures the power and vision of what great business teams can accomplish. Its stories and lessons should be read and learned." -- -- Senator Bill Bradley
"A thoughtful and well-written book filled with fascinating examples. . . . You will be hard-pressed to find a better guide to the essential building block of the organization of the future." -- -- John Byrne Business Week
"An unusually thorough study of teams...As well as challenging much conventional wisdom about teams, the book is full of advice about how to organize proper--and properly effective--teams." -- -- Financial Times
"Teams at any level in the organization make all the difference to performance. This book describes, with inescapable clarity, the discipline necessary for both teams and performance." -- -- Harvey Golub, CEO, American Express Company
"This book offers valuable advice in the fine art of building teams for high performance results...The authors provide real and disguised examples...along with specific recommendations...and offer useful ideas for balancing work responsibilities, executive egos, communications, and skills." -- -- Industry Week
About the Author
Jon R. Katzenbach is a founder of Katzenbach Partners, consultants in the areas of team, leadership, and workforce performance. His published works include Real Change Leaders, Teams at the Top, The Work of Teams, and Peak Performance. Mr. Katzenbach and Mr. Smith are both formerly of McKinsey & Company.
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The book is divided into three parts:
- Understanding teams
- Becoming a team
- Exploiting the potential
The first part is the most important part of the book. In the first chapter the authors describe why you would want to have teams in your organization. The second chapter goes on to describe one team in action. The authors use lots of stories of teams throughout the book to make their points clear. The third chapter describes six points which they call the basics of teams:
2) Complementary skills
3) Shared purpose
4) Clear specific goals
5) Clear working approach
6) Sense of mutual accountability
In the fourth chapter, the authors give more examples.
The second part of the book introduces the team performance curve. The authors make the distinction between working groups and real teams. They consider that real teams perform higher, but its more difficult to achieve that. Between real teams and working groups they identifies the pseudo-teams, which have a performance below average, and the potential teams, which have a performance about equal to the working groups. Next to these, the author still recognize the high-performance teams, which are exceptional, but have a level of performance above all the others. Part two mainly continues explaining and clarifying this model.
The third part is called "exploiting the potential" and talks about higher management teams and about how to build your organization to support teams.
The book is easy readable and well structured. Some of the examples and stories are nice, though some of them do not go in too much detail. In general, I felt that the book could be thinner and some of the stories could be skipped. The authors used a little too much words, hence I'll rate the book 4 stars and not 5.
Still, when interested in teams, this book is certainly recommended.
"The Wisdom of Teams" offers rich and invaluable research validation on the critical ingredients of high performance teams. The authors, Jon Kastenbach, and Douglas Smith, have researched teams from a wide range of industry, both high performance teams as well as teams that have failed, and listed very clear parameters that make teams either powerful or ineffective. The findings point to one of the prime responsibilities of leadership as the formation of 'teams'. Once a group of people become a team, they invariably find the competencies, and get the resources needed. Simply because the basic instinct of a 'natural' team is to win. No team is comfortable being second. Integration, collaboration, communication, creativity, managing time, enjoying change, taking on challenge, are attitudinal traits naturally available to a team.
This invaluable book defines what converts a group of people into powerful 'natural' teams. This is a must read for all team players, team builders, and leaders of teams and organizations.