Sunday, February 8, 2015

Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


  • Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust
    • "is the confidence among team members that their peers' intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group"
    • Basically, team members should feel comfortable being vulnerable with one another
    • Tools To Address
      • "Get to know each other games"
        • Builds a personal connection that relationships can build on
      • Evaluate shared models
        • Express what each person feels they contribute / could contribute better to the team
        • Discuss
      • My Thoughts
        • Running evaluations such as Strength finder might provide valuable insight
    • Leader
      • Take the first step!
  • Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict
    • "All great relationships require productive conflict in order to grow"
      • Should be productive ideological conflict
        • Maintain respect... somehow!
        • Focus on ideas, not on people
    • Healthy conflict is actually more efficient then no conflict
    • Tools To Address
      • Make it part of the culture
      • Moderate as much as possible, but don't protect
  • Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment
    • "Commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in"
      • This does not mean consensus!
      • Better to make a bold move and change then waffle
    • Tools To Address
      • End the meetings with a review of key points
      • Establish clear deadlines and responsibilities
    • Leader Role
      • Take a chance and be prepared to be wrong
  • Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of accountability
    • "the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team"
      • Peer pressure works!
    • Tools To Address
      • Publish goals and standards
      • Team rewards
    • Leader
      • You can't do this alone, create the right culture!
  • Dysfunction 5: Inattention to results
    • "the tendency of members to care about something other than he collective goals of the group"
      • Team status and individual status vs company goals
    • Tools To Address
      • Rewards that address good behavior


This is actually the second time I've read this book.  The first was during a previous job.  I was involved in leadership training, and my wife recommended that I read this book in conjunction with that training.  At that time, I noted that the company I worked for actually possessed several of these dysfunctions, but didn't even know it.  One particularly vivid memory comes to mind.

I was talking with a manager, and they commented about how the 360 review (that they had self selected to do) was a stunning success.  That person commented that nobody had anything negative to share during the process, and that was a good mark to their record as a manager.  If you get a chance to read this book, you'll note that this is probably as a result of dysfunction than as a result of stellar management techniques. There is no way to please everybody, and there is no way that everyone "just agrees" with the approach you are taking.

This book is actually quite well written, and I highly suggest picking it up.  The "fable" approach is quite nice, and allows for a lot of color to be added to help describe the finer points of the dysfunctions noted above. Further, the dysfunctions are actually broken out and discussed in a chapter near the end, which makes for a great reference at any time!