There are those who believe that implementing a capability team is as easy as identifying a group of people, putting them together, and then doing a few team building exercises. Instant team! In the simplest terms possible – they are wrong.  There are four complicating factors that have to be addressed. (more…)

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The use of teams to deliver business value are at the core of most business models.  In matrix organizations teams are generally viewed as mutable; being formed and reformed from specialty labor pools to meet specific contexts. Teams can be customized to address emerging needs or critical problems and then fade away gracefully.  Examples of these kinds of teams include red teams or tiger teams.  This approach is viewed as maximizing organizational flexibility in a crisis.  The crisis generates the energy needed to focus the team on a specific problem.  However, as a general approach, dynamic teams have several problems because of how the organizations are structured and how people interact and become teams. (more…)

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Over the past 14 weeks, we completed a re-read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing).  The book lays out a hierarchal model of the dysfunctions that can plague a team or organization. For me, there are three main takeaways.  The first is the model of the five dysfunctions. They are:

  • Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust
  • Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict
  • Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment
  • Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability
  • Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results

As we noted earlier in the re-read, you can think of each of dysfunction as a card in a precariously balanced house of cards.  Each card is important and, if withdrawn, the whole structure will collapse.  Each dysfunction builds on each other and,  unless dealt with, can poison a team or organization.  When using the model to facilitate the behavior change of a team, use the overall model as a critical reminder that you can’t just jump to the end state. Improving any team requires the application of careful and concerted effort continuously over time.   (more…)

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

It is nearly 2017!  Today we complete the re-read portion of the Re-Read Saturday for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing).  This installment covers the section titled Understanding and Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions. This section is the most hands-on portion of the book and I suggest spending time with the wide range of ideas Lencioni peppers throughout this section. Note that there are three very short sections that follow the Understanding and Overcoming section. They are interesting reads; however, I will leave them to you to review.  Next week we will conclude this Re-Read with final thoughts. (more…)

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. (more…)

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 (more…)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

In this week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), we tackle the sections titled Accountability, Individual Contributor, and The Talk.  We are getting close to the end of the novel portion of the book, but over the next few weeks we have a number of ideas to extract from the book before we review the model.

(Remember to buy a copy and read along.)  We are well over halfway through this book and I am considering re-reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset next.  What are your thoughts?


The second off-site continued with a discussion immediately turned began with a review of progress toward the teams 18 deal (sales) goal.  Lencioni uses the 18 deal goal to illustrate developing a measurable goal and how the team holds itself accountable.  As a reminder, the four key drivers the team had agreed upon in the first off-site were: product demonstrations, competitive analysis, sales training, and product brochures.  Martin reported that product demonstrations were ahead of schedule partially becasue Carlos had pitched in to help Martin. Carlos’s chipping in had the unintended consequence  of contributing to the competitor analysis that Carlos was leading being behind schedule. The competitor analysis was also behind because Carlos had not gotten support from Nick’s people.  This detail is important to illustrate two issues.  The first is that Carlos had not gone to Nick to talk about the getting the needed support.  Carlos had not engaged to hold Nick accountable.  Secondly, no one had actually even challenged Carlos about the progress he was making on the competitor analysis. Carlos and the team had fallen down on accountability.

Lencioni (using Kathryn’s voice) states that there are three reasons it is difficult to hold people accountable.

  1.      Some people are just generally helpful,
  2.      Some get defensive, or
  3.      Some are intimidating.

There are probably other reasons it is difficult to hold or be held accountable.  Accountability is intertwined with the concept of trust.  Without accountability, it is difficult to trust.  Holding someone accountable does not represent a lack of trust, but rather a signal of a trust that team members push to make the team better.

As this section concludes, Mikey holds herself out as better than the team and only sarcastically goes along with the decision for everyone to attend sales training (note: once upon a time I might have been this person).

As a team, holding each other accountable for the actions and activities that we’ve agreed to do is critical for the health of the team.  Teams that don’t have enough trust to be willing to hold each other accountable means that it’s very difficult to make progress as a team.

Individual contributor

The fourth driver of DecsionTech’s 18 deal goals,  new product brochures, was the next topic. Mikey proudly produced mockups of the brochures from her bag and announced they were going to print next week. A train wreck ensued. Nick was uncomfortable because his people have been doing research and no one had talked to them. Mikey, as the marketing lead, had struck out on her own without consulting and interacting with a team.  Her opinion was more important than that of the team. BOOM.  Kathryn called for a long break and dismissed everyone except Mikey.

Individuals need participate and integrate into the team.  Attributes such as humility and working well in a team, the ability to accept criticism and then work in a manner that allows others to have input are required to work in a team.  While individual contributors are important they are generally not the right people for an effective team.

The Talk

Mikey did not seem to see the end coming.  Mikey was not aware of her impact on the team.  Mikey’s reaction to Kathryn’s comment “I don’t think you are fit for this team” indicated she did not understand her impact on the team.

Throughout the story, Lencioni paints a picture of Mikey as the person that cuts herself off, eye rolls when statements are made that she doesn’t believe without getting involved in the discussion and in generally acts as a motivation heatsink. Mikey only really respected herself.  As the talk progressed, Mikey turned to veiled threats to deflect Kathryn’s decision (a form of frustration on the Kubler-Ross change curve).  In the end though Kathryn felt that Mikey was coming to terms with the situation, but she was wrong.  Another Lencioni cliffhanger.

“Talks” like these are a form of negotiation.  In these circumstances, unless both parties see the event coming, one party will tend to have less information or power than the other.  When a similar situation occurred between Kathryn and Nick, Nick was successfully able to delay the decision so that he could reduce the stress of the situation and help even the power balance.  Saying yes immediately in this type of negotiations probably isn’t a good idea.  Let things sink in and then even if you can say yes immediately don’t. 

Three quick takeaways:

  • Team members hold other team members accountable.        
  • Be aware of how you affect the people around you or suffer the consequences!
  • Try to step back and reduce the stress when confronted by tough negotiations.

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


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

In this week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), we continue with the third section of the book.  This section begins the second off-site by wrestling with defining who their first team is.  The concept of the first team can be summarized as who a team member owes their ultimate work loyalty.  Any scenario that includes a hierarchy of teams faces this issue. (more…)

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Cover

The “Book” during unboxing!

I am back from the Øredev  in Malmo, Sweden. It was a wonderful conference. Check out my short review.

In this week’s re-read of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing), the team returns to the office and quickly begins the transformation process.

(Remember to buy a copy from the link above and read along.)

Part Three – Heavy Lifting (more…)

Heads up!

Heads up!

A Scum of Scrums (SoS) is a mechanism to coordinate a group of teams so that they act as a team of teams.  SoS is a powerful tool. As with any powerful tool, if you use it wrong, problems will ensue. Six problematic implementations, called anti-patterns, are fairly common. We’ll discuss three in part 1 and finish the rest in part 2. (more…)