- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; Later Printing edition (June 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875845819
- ISBN-13: 978-0875845814
- Package Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,576,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization Paperback – June 1, 1994
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-4 of 49 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
The Wisdom of Teams presents Katzenbach and Smith's contention that real teams are the best approach to building a high-performance organization. The authors blended together their highly detailed framework for team development with examples of how several corporations successfully or unsuccessfully implemented these team principles. While acknowledging that teams may not be the best solution for every organization's problems, the authors unashamedly insisted that businesses do themselves a disservice by not considering the team-based approach. The book's twelve chapters are organized into three parts: Understanding Teams, Becoming a Team, and Exploiting the Potential.
Part One, Understanding Teams, introduces the reader to the authors' thesis that teams present the best approach to creating a high-performance organization. Teams are defined as a "small group of people with complementary skills committed to a common purpose and set of specific performance goals" (21). Teams are not the same as work groups, committees, councils or task forces where the emphasis is on individual performance and accountability; that is, the sum of individual bests. Neither is every group that calls itself a team a true team. They may exhibit team-like characteristics or share team-like values, but those in and of themselves do not make a team. The distinguishing characteristic of teams is the synergistic effect created when individual accountability is exchange for mutual group accountability and shared group responsibility. Additionally, teams need to do real work in order be characterized as a real team. They must produce a specific work product that contributes to the organization's mission and success. However, achieving real team status is often difficult. In order to become successful, potential teams must overcome bureaucratic inertia, managerial biases, confusion about what makes a true team, negative past experiences with pseudo teams, fear of failure, and individual resistance to shared accountability. These embody a daunting array of factors to overcome, but the authors insisted that a top-level commitment to team-based solutions could lead to building a successful team.
In Part Two, Becoming a Team, the authors used their "team performance curve" to graphically illustrate the process necessary to create winning teams. A group does not become a team when initially formed. They may be a working group committed to better coordinating individual efforts toward individual goals benefiting the company, but they produce no joint work product. While this may be the best solution to a company's problem, the decision to become a team requires the conscious decision to assume the risk of mutual accountability and joint responsibility. If provided the right catalyst, a working group can transition to either a pseudo team or a potential team. The pseudo team fails to implement the basics of team building. They call themselves a team but are still focused on individual performance and not group results. Potential teams show an enhanced desire to formulate a group mission but have not adopted mutual accountability. They demonstrate improved team effectiveness, but their impact on the corporate problem is no greater than the working group. Real teams have a clearly defined mission for which they hold themselves mutually accountable and produce a joint work product. High performance teams are real teams that develop a deep personal commitment among the members of the team for one another's personal growth and wellbeing. These teams are both highly effective in their team effort and produce high quality results for the organization. However, to rise to that level, team members must make the critical choice to invest themselves in the team and its mission while overcoming obstacles that threaten to cause the team to regress to one of its lesser effective counterparts. Successful teams need quality leaders who help focus the group on the mission, endorse a team-based philosophy of shared accountability, and foster a climate of courage and success.
In Part Three, the authors forcefully championed their assertion that teams are the building blocks of successful organizations. Teams, they insisted, are the best organizational tool to deliver the results necessary to build customer loyalty, shareholder value, and employee satisfaction. Provided a company has a strong performance ethic and vision-driven leadership, teams can contribute the necessary skills, energy, and performance values that drive successful businesses. The ultimate decision to incorporate functional team rests with executive leadership and its willingness to transform bloated hierarchical structures, managerial parochialism, and individual-based incentives.
Review and Reaction:
Brevity and succinctness are not the strengths of this book. Once one is able to navigate the business techno babble, the mind numbing repetitiousness, and awkward sentence structures, the authors' point becomes clear: Teams are good for business. The genuine strength of the book is in the examples. The authors' ethereally academic presentation of team concepts finds a clearer voice in their reflections on how these concepts were applied in "real world" corporate environments. While not every example speaks with equal adequacy to its point, the reader can gain an understanding of what factors help build or break teams. Many of these factors, as the authors' asserted, are common sense.