The Discipline of Teams: A Mindbook-Workbook for Delivering Small Group Performance by J. R. Katzenbach, Douglas K. Smith

Who Should Read This Book

  • Team leaders
  • Team members
  • Executives and managers
  • HR professionals
  • Anyone facing cross-functional challenges
  • Anyone facing the challenge of change
  • Anyone on a virtual team
  • Anyone who wants workbook exercises to build on The Wisdom of Teams

Why You Should Read This Book

The Discipline of Teams provides all the tools, frameworks and exercises you need to achieve performance in small groups, whether at the top, middle or front lines of your organization. It updates The Wisdom of Teams in explaining:

  • Why small groups typically need to apply two performance disciplines - team and single leader - instead of just one
  • How to use performance in choosing between the team and single leader disciplines
  • The unique challenges faced by virtual teams and what to do about them
  • What spells the difference between performance and failure in applying each of the key parts of the team discipline
  • Getting stuck teams unstuck
  • The critical role of team performance in driving change

What You'll Learn

  • The five basic characteristics of any effective small group
  • The ten characteristics that convert effective small groups into high performance groups
  • How to master both small group disciplines: team and single leader
  • How to set outcome-based performance goals and use them in choosing between the team and single leader discipline
  • How to create and use a 'performance agenda' for your small group that avoids the trap of prioritizing through endless debates about 'importance'
  • Dozens of exercises to guide you in applying the six key parts of the team discipline
  • The three unique challenges of virtual teams and how to deal with them effectively
  • Practical steps you can take to get a stuck team unstuck
  • Where and how to use team performance to drive organizational change

Reviews

From the Publisher
The authors of the phenomenal bestseller, The Wisdom of Teams, are back. This time Jon Katzenbach and Doug Smith focus on the issues of small group discipline and performance and the challenges presented by revolutionary technologies that enable the creation of virtual teams and global teams.

The Discipline of Teams helps small groups implement the disciplines, frameworks, tools, and techniques that enable performance. With detailed guidance and dozens of indispensable exercises, they present a regimen proven to improve performance and help groups adhere to the Six Basic Principles of Team Discipline:

• Keep team membership small

• Ensure that members have complementary skills

• Develop a common purpose

• Set common goals

• Establish a commonly agreed upon working approach

• Integrate mutual and individual accountability

The Discipline of Teams is an indispensable resource for any small group in any organization that wants to raise the bar by setting and achieving more ambitious performance goals again and again.

"Katzenbach and Smith's work on teams over the past fifteen years has been called 'essential', 'path breaking', and 'the best ever' by Business Week, The Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Financial Times, Fast Company, Leader to Leader, and other publications around the world. Millions of people from the executive suite to the front lines in tens of thousands of teams have applied Katzenbach and Smith's disciplines to deliver performance and change that matters to their organizations, customers, shareholders, funders and themselves."

Amazon.com reviewer: Donald Mitchell, Boston
"The Discipline of Teams updates and extends the best-seller, The Wisdom of Teams. "The most important characteristic of teams is discipline; not bonding, togetherness, or empowerment." You are encouraged to be sure that you use teams only when they make sense as a performance unit, rather than having a single-leader approach. Using sophisticated Marine units as models, you begin to appreciate that some tasks are better suited to individuals and some tasks need to combine team and individual elements. In fact, complex tasks may require many teams focusing on subtasks. The book also looks at virtual teams and the impact of electronic communications on teams (concluding that nothing really changes -- you just have more ways to communicate and face-to-face is still important).

A team makes sense when you need to accomplish something more than what individual performances will give you. A good example comes in new product development. Each specialist can do a good job, and the project can easily be a bust. By thinking together, potential failure can become success by tweaking each perspective in new ways. The authors also point out that many times goals are set that sound like individual performance, but better goals would set directions requiring a team.

An effective team needs to have:

(1) an understandable charter

(2) communicate and coordinate effectively

(3) have clear roles and responsibilities for individuals

(4) use time-efficient processes and

(5) have a sense of accountability.

"Whenever a small group can deliver performance through the combined sum of individual contributions, then the single-leader discipline is the most effective choice."

The book provides many ways to make both teams and single-leader groups work better. In fact, it focuses on those areas that are most likely to cause problems, like poorly defined goals, keeping the size of the group as small as possible, not having the skills needed, time pressures, and using the wrong leadership discipline). I also liked the fact that the book looked at the question of when you should fold a team.

The authors clearly understand a great deal about making teams more effective, and anyone can learn from this book. I think those who liked The Wisdom of Teams will find it to be a useful refresher with some valuable new material.

The book contains many exercises and workbook questions that I happily endorse. They make the book much more practical and useful. If you just did the exercises and the workbook questions, this would be a five star book. The explanations are just icing on the cake.

After you have finished this book, I also suggest you think about whether you have set the right priorities in your organization. Realizing that you can only do a few things at once, what should they be? Be sure to give yourself a chance to pick tasks that will benefit from teams.

Find ways to make human cooperation more beneficial . . . for that's our strength!"

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