Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”
The Staff
Jeff Shanley – former CEO, now head of business development, a natural networker who was effective at raising money and recruiting talent, but management was a different story.

Michele “Mikey” Bebe – head of marketing, known as a brand building genius, but the least popular person on the Decision Tech team.

Martin Gilmore – head of engineering and the designer of the Decision Tech flagship product. His lack of engagement had become an irritation to the others on the team.

Jeff Rollins (JR) – a prototypical sales person who rarely followed through on commitments.

Carlos Amador – a very engaged, thoughtful contributor. Though his customer support role was not “fully developed,” he took responsibility for product quality.

Jan Mersino – as CFO, she was a key player at DecisionTech – a company with plans to go public.

Nick Farrell – his undefined role didn’t match his impressive title – COO. Given the company’s slow start, he had little meaningful day to day work. He saw himself as the only executive on the team with the ability to take over the CEO role.

Part 1 – Underachievement

- What were the main weaknesses that Kathryn immediately noticed with her new team?  How would you describe a typical meeting at DecisionTech before Kathryn’s arrival?

- What are the characteristics and qualities of a “good” and effective meeting?  How can we make sure we have “good” and effective meetings here at our school?  

- Can you associate yourself or somebody you know with any of the characters presented thus far in the story?

Part 2 – Lighting the Fire

- Pg. 30 – Email versus face-face conversation – when is one okay and not the other?  Are you guilty of this?

- Pg. 44 – “Great teams do not hold back with one another; they are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal?”  How do we create an environment where you can voice your concern without fear of reprisal?

- Pg. 65 – “It sounds like your strength and weakness are rooted in the same things.”  Do you agree with this statement, and if so, how can we use this information to our advantage?

- Pg. 79 – Revenue, expenses, new customer acquisition, current customer satisfaction, employee retention, market awareness, product quality were listed as the team’s “scoreboard.”  Is this applicable to education?  How often should we check the “scoreboard?”  Daily, monthly, biannually, annually……?

- Pg. 81 – “Your department cannot be doing well because the company is failing and if the company is failing then we are all failing and there is no way that we can justify the performance of our own department.”  Is this true in education?  Is this true at our school?

- Pg. 84 – “Could you start saying us and we instead of you?”

- Pg. 92 – “It’s the lack of conflict that’s a problem.”  Do we have conflict in our staff meetings?  PLC?

- Pg. 95 – “They just need to be heard, and to know that their input was considered and responded to.” Are your opinions and ideas heard?  How do we establish an open arena to discuss our ideas at our school?

Part 3 – Heavy Lifting

- Pg. 137 – “When a company (school) has a collection of good managers (teachers) who don’t act like a team, it can create a dilemma for them, and for the company (school).”  Do we have this at our school? In your department?

- Pg. 153-159 – What did you think about Mikey’s departure from DecisionTech?  How do we deal with somebody who is obviously good at their job, but detracts from the overall effectiveness of the team?

Part 4 – Traction

- Pg. 175 – At one of the last off-site visits Nick proclaimed that the biggest issue that needed to be addressed was the avoidance of accountability, which ultimately leads to low standards.  How do we prevent avoidance of accountability at our school?  Within our departments?  Within our classrooms? 

- How can we hold our colleagues more accountable without creating conflict?  Is it our job to hold our colleagues accountable?  If we are creating conflict for the betterment of the school is the conflict justified?

- What is your reaction to the idea that the larger the unit, the smaller the leadership team needs to be?  Do we have small leadership teams at our school?  Are these small leadership teams more effective than one overlapping leadership team?  Why or why not and how?

Do you see yourself as any of the characters presented in this book?  Can you still contribute to the success of your team even if you posses less than stellar team qualities? 

- What specific skills and strengths did Kathryn possess in developing the leadership team at DecisionTech?

- How do we develop the skills and strengths that Kathryn demonstrated for her team?……applicable to schools?

- How and why does a book like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team continue to be on the best seller-list after 7 years of being published?

- What were your key take away points from this book and why/how are they significant in your life or work?