The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

This week’s entry is a bit on the short side, I am on my way to the Øredev conference.  If you are going to be in Malmo, Sweden for the conference please attend my sessions and let’s connect!

In this week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), we complete the review of off-site meeting with the team setting a goal and an ultimatum.  We end on another cliffhanger.

(Buy a copy from the link above and read along.)

Film Noir

One of the most interesting questions posed in this section was whether anyone on the team would rather attend a meeting or go to a movie.  Movies are typically not interactive (except for movies like the original Rocky Horror Picture Show), but are engaging because they have conflict.  Note:  As discussed here, good stories have other components, but conflict is an important part of the plot, which is a very important component of a good story.  The conflict at the meetings of the DecisionTech executive team is suppressed, which means that even though the meetings are more interactive than a movie, they are far less interesting and rarely make decisions.

The inability for the team to express, discuss or debate the topics that are important to the whole organization makes it very difficult to agree on common goals or make decisions. Without good intellectual conflict there is very little value in holding meetings.


With the meeting nearly at an end, Kathryn challenged the team to discuss and set an overarching goal for the remainder of the year. Kathryn acted as the facilitator for the discussion to ensure that ideas and conflict were exposed.  The group began the discussion primarily focusing on market share, but end with a goal of customer acquisition.  Katheryn’s facilitation, that made sure that conflict was exposed, positions where defended and that the conversation had a time box, ensured that the team made a decision on an overall goal (there can only be one overall goal).

Once the goal was agreed upon the team moved on to setting a goal for the number of new customers.  After an extended discussion, Kathryn finally made a decision because the team could not come to a consensus within a reasonable period and there being no science for the decision, allowing them to move on.  All parties were heard during the decision process, helping to ensure that everyone could support the decision when the meeting broke up.

Lencioni built a cliffhanger and bit of foreshadowing into the end of this section in the form of a final challenge from JR.  JR suggested that they didn’t need to do any more of these off-site meetings and that they should just focus on the goal they had agreed upon.  Kathryn ended the meeting pointing out that DecisionTech had more technology and more money than their competitors, but still lacked teamwork, and therefore were failing.  Based on that assessment Kathryn announced that they would be back in two weeks, and in the interim she would not tolerate any behavior that exhibited a lack of trust amongst team members.

Three quick takeaways:

  •         Meetings need to have conflict.
  •         Facilitation supports learning better meeting behavior.
  •         Poor behavior destroys the trust needed to debate ideas.

Previous Installments in the re-read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni:

Week 1 – Introduction through Observations

Week 2 – The Staff through the End Run

Week 3 – Drawing the Line though Pushing Back

Week 4 – Entering Danger though Rebound

Week 5 – Awareness through Goals

Week 6 – Deep Tissue through Exhibition