Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

In this week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), we address section four with the sections titled The Harvest, Gut Check, and The March.  These three sections complete and sum up The Fable.  I am planning three more weeks on this book.  

Which means we need to choose a new book. We have a poll going for the next book. I have identified three books, including re-reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset, Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman) and Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).   I have also had suggestions (in the other category) for Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Adam Grant) and Management Lessons from Taiichi Ohno: What Every Leader Can Learn from the Man by Takehiko Harada.  I would like your opinion.

If you are new to the re-read series buy a copy of the current book and go back to week one and read along!

Part Four

In this section, Lencioni completes The Fable and sets the book up for a final discussion of the model.


This section outlines the final offsite with the team.  I use the term “team” to express the evolution from a group of individuals into a more cohesive unit.  In the book, two markers show that the team has becomes more of a unit.  During the meetings, more laughter can be heard even after contentious debate, and during breaks the team members stayed together rather heading back to their rooms or places unknown. Lencioni also uses this section to remind readers of the overall model (shown below) which will be reviewed in detail during the last few weeks of the re-read.

Regardless of progress, this section reminds us that all teams struggle and tend not to progress in a straight line.  Even the best teams I have been part of have struggled with some topics or decisions.  Often team struggles generate short-term trust issues which need to quickly dealt with or the team can fall apart.  Lencioni indicates that the team (and by extension the team leader) must have the discipline to ensure the dysfunctions do not filter back into the team’s behavior patterns.

Gut check

The firm, Green Banana, that Nick had suggested DecsionTech buy earlier in the story is back; however, this time they are pursuing an unsolicited offer to acquire DecsionTech.  The team rejects the offer seeing a better future working together. Mikey’s replacement, the new marketing guy, is amazed at how energetically the team debated the decision about Green Banana and other topics.  The team held each other accountable and ended with clear decisions without any animus.  Lencioni uses the Gut Check section to highlight the behavioral differences compared to earlier in the book.  Teams that address the dysfunctions can debate and hold each other accountable without damaging relationships so that they end up with better decisions.

The March

This section completes The Fable.  In my mind, this is the section where everyone lives semi-happily ever after.  Over the next years, Lencioni describes an organization where things are better, but not perfect.  In this section, DecisionTech is tied for the top spot in the industry but wants to be on top. Kathryn rearranges her staff to make the executive team more compact.  Jeff suggests that he work for Nick (who is the new COO) rather than continue as a direct report to make the team more streamlined.  I am reminded of Dumas and the Three Musketeers, “all for one and one for all.”  While I think The Fable ends a tad contritely – I wanted lasers and starships – it is good to remember that everyone (includes those with stock options) should be working for the good of the organization, not just the quick payout. 

Three Key takeaways:

  1.   Progress is rarely linear (think two steps forward and one step back).
  2.   Good teams can debate and then be friends.
  3.   The good of the organization is important (Spock got it right).

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

Week 7 – Film Noir through Application

Week 8 – On-site through Fireworks

Week 9 – Leaks through Plowing On

Week 10 – Accountability through The Talk

Week 11 – Last Stand through Rally