Katzenbach and Smith: The Wisdom of Teams
The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith is a true classic among Twentieth Century business books. It uncovers the wisdom of what teams can achieve, and how they can perform at their best.
Watching this video is worth 3 Management Courses CPD Points*.
(See below for more details)
This video is part of course module number 4.3.7
Program 4: Managing & Leading Groups
Course 3: Teams
Section 7: Masters of Teams
Other videos in this section include:
🎬 Meredith Belbin: The Belbin Team Roles Profile
🎬 Margerison McCann: The Team Management Wheel
🎬 Patrick Lencioni: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
‘The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization’ (https://geni.us/7i1AL) by Jon R Katzenbach and Douglas K Smith, was first published in 1993, and remains in print over 25 years later.
This is not just a reflection of the timeless appeal of its subject matter. It also reflects the quality and depth of the research and thinking that pervade it.
Katzenbach and Smith describe their findings as both common sense and uncommon sense. Real team stories show not just the obvious truths, but the subtle complexities too. Perhaps the biggest idea of the Wisdom of Teams is that there is no one Big Idea, but many smaller big ideas.
Why do we Need Teams?
Teams have the potential to deliver results that go beyond what individuals can achieve alone.
The first sentence of the introduction to Part One seems to sum this up nicely:
‘Teams outperform individuals acting alone or in larger organizational groupings, especially when performance requires multiple skills, judgments, and experiences.’
Teams also offer benefits beyond the performance of their set tasks:
• development of individual members,
• enhanced organizational culture,
• solving challenging problems, and
• taking robust decisions.
So, What is a Team?
Katzenbach and Smith’s definition of a team has become a standard:
‘A 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.’
This encompasses three necessary conditions for a team:
• Accountability and Skills yield performance results
• Commitment and accountability lead to personal growth
• Skills and commitment create collective work products
The Evolution of Teams
Katzenbach and Smith show a five-stage evolution from a working group to a high-performance team.
1. Working Group
3. Potential Team
4. Real Team
5. High-performance Team
How to Build a High Performing Team
Here are some of my favorite ideas from The Wisdom of Teams, for how to build a High Performing Team.
– Challenge and Success are the Strongest Motivators
– It’s a strong performance ethic that drives team performance, rather than a team ethic.
– Individualism need not get in the way of team performance.
Top-Team: A Contradiction?
Teams at the top of an organization are the hardest to make work.
The solutions include:
• Division into smaller teams
• A collegiate atmosphere
• Subordinating self-interest
Skills not Personalities
Perhaps a surprising finding is that personality has little importance in creating a team dynamic. Skills mix is more important.
1. Thinking about Katzenbach & Smith’s five-stage evolution from a working group to a high-performance team, where is your current team? (2 MC CPD Points)
2. Using the ideas in this video and in other videos from this series, what are some of the things you could do to move your team towards a High-performing Team state? (4 MC CPD Points)
– CPD Tools – https://gum.co/MC-CPD
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– The Wisdom of Teams https://geni.us/7i1AL
Managers need a basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)
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