The majority of Patrick Lencioni's work The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a fictionalized account of a very typical management challenge. The fictitous company is DecisionTech, a 150 person software start-up in Silicon Valley. The company, thanks to the efforts of Jeff the company's firstCEO, is well funded and staffed with top level executives. However, the company is lagging behind several competitors and the board has replaced Jeff with Kathryn. Kathryn immediately begins a careful review of the situation and determines that the senior management team isn't much of a team at all. Utilizing a series of exercises and off-site meetings, Kathryn begins an aggressive team building (and team thinning). She opens ever meeting of her direct reports with the following speech:
"We have a more experienced and talented executive team than any of our competitors. We have more cash than they do...We have better core technology. And we have a powerful board of directors. Yet in spite of all that, we are behind two of our competitors in terms of both revenue and customer growth. Can anyone here tell me why that is?"
In fact, Kathryn goes on to open every executive team meeting with this very quote. In time, Kathryn observes the personality traits of her team and their short comings clearly illustrate the 5 dysfunctions of a typical team:
Teams need trust to communicate honestly and openly > Absence of Trust
Fear of Conflict
Teams must commit together > Lack of Commitment. (Trust is a Prereq)
Avoidance of Accountability
Inattention to results
Kathryn succeeds in righting the ship and turning DecisionTech around but not without some trials and tribulations on the way. The newly invigorated executive team is much much stronger.
More Key Points
Common team goals lead individuals to making better decisions, seeing beyond their own potentially narrow self interests and really moving the needle in the corporate world.