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The Widsom Of Teams

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Jon R. Katzenbach is a director of McKinsey & Company, Inc., where he has served the senior executives of leading companies for over thirty years. His experience includes work with both public and private sector clients from the industrial, financial, and consumer industries. He has also served a variety of nonprofit institutions. He specializes in issues involving corporate governance, organization, and leadership.
Douglas K. Smith is a former consultant at McKinsey & Company, Inc., who today is a leading commentator on organizational performance and change.
Simply, teams outperform people working alone. This is especially true when the performance requires multiple skills, judgements, and experiences.
Consultants or former consultants of large consulting firms wrote the Wisdom of Teams. The Wisdom of Teams authors have roots at McKinsey. A consulting firm based out of Dallas Texas. The authors have spent considerable time working with teams, studying them and are now using their books to impart that knowledge to those seeking to form, develop and facilitate successful teams in their organizations. However, the two books take very different approaches.
Teams are one of the catchwords of the 90's. And with them has come an explosion of literature telling us what teams are and what they are not; how to create them, measure them, use them and empower them. A new vocabulary has emerged that distinguishes work groups from work teams, and self-directed teams from all other teams.
Some of the essential lessons learned about teams and team performance are:
- Teams do not arise without a perforce challenge that is meaningful to those involved.
- Real team's results will be greater if the leaders aim their sights on preference.
- Biases toward individualism cannot interfere with the team's goals.

The Wisdom of Teams presents lessons learned from the success and failure of actual teams. The authors base their wisdom on personal experience along with extensive interviews conducted with 50 different businesses. Katzenbach and Smith's lessons are supported by case studies. "Real" teams are the focus of the book. According to Katzenbach and Smith, a "real" team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. These elements of a team -- purpose, performance goals, common approach to work and mutual accountability -- define what teams are and how they should be managed. Teams are distinguished from work groups in that the work they perform is collective as opposed to the sum of individual contributions, leadership roles are shared, and the team does real work together that result in a specific product or service being delivered. This distinction is important, because the focus of the book is on what teams are, what it takes to become a team and how to exploit the potential of successful teams. The authors also present useful guidelines for determining when to use a team and when to use a work group. Teams are not presented as an organizational ideal. In fact, Katzenbach and Smith encourage looking at the organization's goals and policies to determine if a team or work group is the best choice. Their ...

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