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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2002
Patrick Lencioni has written an exceptionally interesting fable on optimal team performance. He has prescribed guidelines for team success and applied them in an interesting, easy to read story with a twist. He has defined easy to follow principles that with practice can lead any group or team, large or small to be great.
The book begins with a story of a potentially great company with a dysfunctional executive staff. Even though this company assembled some of the best executives and attracted top tier investors (compared to their closest competitors), the company was on a downslide. Morale was slipping and key employees were leaving. The CEO (and co-founder) was relieved of his title by the board and the search for his successor began.
This company, Decision Tech, was a high profile, two years old company with much at stake. The chairman of the board pushed for hiring Kathryn, an ancient fifty-seven years old by Silicon Valley standards. Employees and the executive staff were stunned with the news of the new hire.
The story develops by weaving Lencioni's team dysfunctions into its web. The fable is enticing and not typical of your "how to produce" guidelines book. The author keeps your interest while at the same time introducing and teaching his methods.
At the end of the story, Mr. Lencioni reviews all levels of team dysfunctions and summarizes and reiterates each. Therefore reinforcing his principles and eliminating confusion.
This is the first book I have read by this author. I found it entertaining, yet very informative. I enjoyed the novel format while receiving important informational steps for success in a team or group.
I would highly recommend this book to any person or group seeking to improve or turn around the team in which they belong. It would be a great tool for corporate teams or even the local high school basketball team. All teams would greatly benefit from Mr. Lencioni's advice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2003
The fictitious story used to expand on the five dysfunctions was very entertaining at the least. Ultimately, the principles outlined in the book are the utopia of teamwork. However, they are not really practical. I find myself after reading through the book still waiting for the true message on team work that I could really apply in the real world. The author does attempt to expand on his view at the end of the book but falls really short in my opinion of adding any real value.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2002
I am an avid reader, especially of books in the self-help and management classification. I must honestly say that in the last 10 years, this book ranks as the WORST book I have read in the area of management and leadership.
To be fair, it is well written, and an easy read. In fact I was able to read it in just two sittings during travel. Moreover, the overall concepts that the author presents are clear and seem reasonable. So why the bad review?
The fact is the author takes a far too simplistic approach to dealing with the frailties and motivations of individuals. The fictional case study is far too perfect. It is like watching a re-run of "Father Knows Best" and using that as the typical American Family. It is nice to think it, but in practice the world is not that way.
The book does not do justice to some of the real world issues in team leadership: backstabbing employees, co-dependent relationships, substance abuse, neurosis, and overall un-manageable people.
While the book presents some general principals which might work in a "laboratory setting" the leader who trys to follow this verbatim may be in for a shock at the results.
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on August 24, 2003
Although I really liked the focus by Lencioni on trust and conflict, I felt that too much emphasis was placed on explaining in detail trust issues and using conflict creatively and not enough on examples and concrete advice on several ways to create trust and encourage creative conflict. In other words, I would have liked less on definitions and more on solutions. Ultimately teams will also suceed or fail based on the composition of the team and their personalities and how they interact. Communication skills, listening, learning styles, clarity are needed by team members. It is possible that the players are the wrong players and how do we know which ones and what and how strong their dysfuctions are? The Myers-Briggs is a start, but with the wrong players the team skill sets and training don't work (there are 3 or 4 great tests that will help build team). I wish he had spent more time on those issues. The last few pages of the book are very powerful and Lencioni demonstrates a wonderful grasp of ways to fix teams. The exceptional storybook style and then the more common business book style give all types of readers a way to relate to his message. We are a nation of story tellers and Lencioni tells a very compelling story; as a matter of fact, United States uses storytelling as a way of illustrating points more than any nation in the world!
In business we continually experience the issue of "lack of creative conflict" and I feel it is a bigger problem than any of the other 4, because we do not like to rock the boat. Lencioni does an exceptional job in strongly making that case and illustrating it well.
One of the most powerful things that Lencioni pointed out was that teams must be loyal to the team and not undermine team loyalty...we do this by placing the needs of our department or division ahead of the teams! Teams need to really believe that they have a common fate and not just a common goal! This was the most powerful book I have read on team dysfunctions. I liked it so much that I reviewed it in my monthly newsletter. It captures the essence of why teams fail and presents it in a clear and entertaining style.
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on July 31, 2003
Before I read "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni, I was unaware that professionals who work together in groups and teams face the same problems as teenagers in high school. Lencioni disscusses the five dysfunctions that teams face. He uses a spectacular model to explain them.... a story line about a major company facing troubles because the survival of the company depends on a team of about 7 people who are in such a disarray and "just can't get along." Lencioni told the story in the point of view of a new CEO of the company, who was challenged to piece the team and the company back together.
There were pros and cons to this book, although I really really enjoyed it. The discussions among the CEO and group about why they are failing as a team and at succeeding (i.e. lack of trust, avoidance of conflict/accountability) were so general and so obvious, but at the same time so necessary. I believe that people can relate to some of the characters on the team. It will help you to understand your team members, it allows other teams members to understand you, and it allows everyone to be able to relate to each other. Because I guarantee, if you are in a team, you have experienced much of what was discussed and experienced in the story. This book will allow you to overcome those obstacles and hopefully work towards a better work atmosphere and create healthier, more understanding relationships with your co-workers.
Another positive aspect of "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" is that the story is told through the narrations of the CEO. This allows people to get a closer sense of what she is dealing with and how she is feeling at the time.
However, the story is a bit long, and if you are reading the story and trying to apply it at the same time, it would not be much help right away. Also, the story sometimes went off on tangents when in the group discussions, which caused them to get off of the subject at task. There could have been more stress on how the teams overcame their hurdles, instead of elaborating so much on explaining each dysfunction. Because the dysfunctions were the obvious part, it was the overcoming part of it that is important in guiding readers to overcome the same hurdles.
Overall, I really believe that this book is really effective in teaching a lesson, guiding readers to success, and even giving people a reality check as to why they may be hurting their own team. I would definitely recommend this book to CEO's and team leaders/members. If you are in a dysfunctional team and wonder why, I guarantee this book can explain it and guide you to success, also!
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on July 29, 2003
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni attracts and captures your attention with his intriguing business story. Before going into thorough details of the five dysfunctions, Lencioni tells the story of a fictitious executive team working to revive a technology company near Silicone Valley. The characters are as realistic as can be and extremely easy to relate to. The story is quite simple to understand and keeps a quick pace. Typically, I have found educational books to drag on and only share stories that few people could relate with. However, this book leads readers through a reasonable, professional journey. The dysfunctions are practical and truthful. Often teams and groups feel that they have all of the possible resources necessary in attaining and mastering their goals, when in fact, they have a plethora of various hidden problems holding them back. Lencioni breaks apart each of these difficulties and explains how it will deny the team of their full potential. I felt that Lencioni's method of applying knowledge prior to teaching a lesson was much more effective than the traditional method of teaching then applying. When the author is finally "teaching" the lessons towards the end of the book, it seems as if you have already learned the information. Patrick Lencioni also provides a useful team assessment and a thoroughly detailed model of the dysfunctions. Insightful suggestions on overcoming the dysfunctions are included as well. Overall, this short, quick book is packed full of invaluable knowledge that can be applied to teams at all levels.
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on January 2, 2003
Great teamwork represents tremendously valuable organizational capital. We all know of groups of excellent individuals who seem unable to work as an effective team. Using the same approach as in his last book, Patrick Lencioni again does a superb job of conveying the elements of potent teams. Most of the book consists of a story or "fable" about a high-tech company full of top performers who are utterly failing to function as a team. A new CEO is brought in from a different background with the challenging task of melding them into a unit. The story format functions well in conveying the ideas in an engaging, clear, and well-illustrated manner. Following the story, an overview of the model presents the ideas in abstraction for quick reference and for wide application. The five dysfunctions-absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results-seem simple. And they are, yet implementing them, as Lencioni and his fictional CEO emphasize, will always be difficult. Lencioni's overview provides some productive ways of applying the model. Almost anyone who works in a team can benefit from this book. The pleasure of reading it will be soothing in the face of the continuing struggles of team-building-struggles which must be embraced and not avoided.
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on December 26, 2002
This is a genuinely significant book for anyone who works in a team environment, whether at work, in sports, in the community, at home, etc. Of all the business books I have read on team building, "Five Dysfunctions" stands at the top of the pack. The strength of this book lies in the fact that it gets at the ROOTS of team failure. Anyone who has been forced to go through corporate "team building" sessions and sing with their fellow co-workers knows that it is an approach that doesn't work! The principles presented in "Five Dysfunctions" are solid and will get results.
The organization of "Five Dysfunctions" is as follows. The bulk of the book comprises of an extended fictitious example of a dysfunctional group, and slowly works through the underlying principles. These principles are then succinctly presented in the last few pages of the book, along with further analysis and suggestions on implementation. This organization allows the principles to slowly sink in through the book, but then gives the reader a very focused section the use for later reference and review.
A great strength of the book is that it avoids the all-too-frequent tendency of creating tension and then resolving it more quickly than would happen in real life. Reading the story gives you a sense of the effort needed to work through the dysfunctions of a team. The tools are presented to the reader, but without the illusion of a quick fix. Rather, "Five Dysfunctions" gives a simple message that inspires, energizes, and creates a vision of hope for how thing could be in a team.
One "a-ha" experience I had while reading this book is that some of the teams I have been on - teams where we all got along just fine - shared at least some of the five dysfunctions which made them less than effective. While these teams were quite accomplished at the superficial types of team building activities that are so popular, we avoided the core issues that Lencioni discusses in his book.
This book is one that I will review often, and recommend to anyone.
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on July 4, 2002
The book is quick reading and if you've read Lencioni's other fables, the style will ring familiar. The short chapters end with foreshadowing that makes you want to read on and see what the team finally comes to learn. His message is crisp and clear and while it is simple, really most management principles are. What is difficult in real world practice, is delivering on the ideas. He provides good food for thought in "Kathryn", the company CEO, who strategically brings her team to their own understanding of why "working at teamwork" can be more important than closing deals and gathering market share. In the final chapters he provides some good ideas for additional exercises companies can try to bring forth some of the same outcomes.
In today's economy, a lot of companies have downsized to the point where executive teams are carrying very heavy loads, while constantly looking over their shoulders to see when the next train might be coming. We'd be wise to start looking at the impact of these changes on company productivity.
While one reviewer here suggested the mythical company used in the case example sounded too contrived, I saw in the myth several different companies I've worked for described to the detail!
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on June 13, 2002
I have to admit that I had somewhat limited expectations for this book. I was worried that this book would simply be a re-hash of the same material written in the first two books by this author. So often, it seems that the creator of a very successful and revolutionary paradigm (and Pat Lencioni's first books were certainly both of those) will put out a whole series of books that explain the same concept with a slightly different spin. Fortunately, that isn't the case here - - This is one of the most powerful business books I've ever read.
While the themes in this book are very consistent with the author's first book, the approach is completely different. The first book forced me to constantly look inward and ask myself what I could be doing better as a CEO. This book was much more team oriented, helping me to guide everyone of my direct reports in how they could be better managers and how we can function more cohesively as a team. I can't say enough about how eye opening the book was in terms of my ability to instantly improve the effectiveness of my entire team. I'm going to give this book to everyone on my team and plan to have a group discussion of what each of us learned from the book.
The book is a VERY quick read (probably an hour cover to cover) and will make a thoughtful manager completely re-think whether his or her team is optimally managed. The book allows you to quickly diagnose the area where your team has weakness and almost instantly chart a well defined course for a much more productive team.
I sincerely believe I'm a much better manager after reading this book and my approach to guiding my team is much more enlightened. For those with the courage to truly examine the way they manage and the commitment to seek out a better way, you won't find a better investment of 60 minutes of your time.
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