Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Happy Holidays!  Today we have a short version of Re-Read Saturday.  This week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), we address begin the major section titled, The Model.  The Model culminates Lencioni’s book and includes four chapters. Today we will re-read the sections titled, An Overview of the Model and Team Assessment.  A short and sweet entry and then I am off for potent eggnog and just maybe a seat at the new Star Wars Movie.  Two more weeks on this book.

I am still soliciting your vote for the next 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.  (PS. in case of ties I will choose)

The Model

An Overview of The Model

Lencioni posits that he wrote the book because of two critical truths.  The first is that genuine teamwork is elusive.  My observations indicate that genuine teamwork is found in organizations, but much of it actually occurs closer to the work than at the executive levels. Ideological movements like Agile strongly incent strong teams, while competition for spots in the hierarchy tend to incent scenarios where trust is difficult.  Situations, such as when Jeff (The March) suggests that he should not no longer report to the CEO, are far rarer than political battles for the next rung in the hierarchy.  Secondly, Lencioni suggests that the reason that teamwork is rare is that teams unwittingly fall prey to the five dysfunctions.  I ask whether the word ‘unwittingly’ should be part of the sentence.

All five dysfunctions are interrelated.  Think of each of them as a card in a precariously balanced house of cards.  Each card is important and, if withdrawn, the whole structure will collapse.  The same can be said for the five dysfunctions.

  1. Absence of Trust in a team exists when people are unwilling to be vulnerable within the boundaries of the group. Without trust, team members will always be on guard with each other and will have to closely examine the motives of those around them.
  2. Fear of Conflict causes team members to be incapable of engaging in the unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Fear of conflict can be directly linked to a lack of trust. 
  3. Lack of Commitment. Without the unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas, team members will not be able to commit to the decisions made by the team or leader.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability. Without commitment to an idea or agreement team members will avoid accountability and will not hold their peers accountable.
  5. Inattention to Results occurs when teams and team members put their individual needs and the needs of the division above the collective goals. If teams and team members are not committed to a goal or action and will not hold each other accountable, there will be no attention to results.

Lencioni ends this section with a positive version of the dysfunctions (the functions?) of a team.  I suggest a quick review.

Team Assessment

The Team Assessment is a quick tool that Lencioni provides to facilitate a conversation with a team around the five dysfunctions.  The team assessment is 15 questions with a scoring mechanism that links each question to one of the dysfunctions. I have tried the assessment as an experiment and found that it is useful for starting a discussion.  I tried the tool on fairly well-performing teams and found that the conversation was quite spirited.  If you try the tool don’t get any discussion or if fist fights breakout  . . . get a trained facilitator to help with your team’s behavioral issues.

Note:  Any assessment tool in the business environment requires goodwill to be effective.  The people that see the tool as a learning opportunity will get the most out of the activity.  Remember the classic saying “garbage in, garbage out.”

Three key takeaways:

  1.      Real teamwork is rare.
  2.      The five dysfunctions are inter-related.
  3.      Assessment are as useful as those taking them want them to be!

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

Week 12 – Harvest through The March