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I read this fast, easy-to-read business bestseller that tells a story about a struggling tech company who hires a new CEO to solve their problems. Her name is Kathryn, so in my head throughout the whole book her last name was Janeway. Because, you know, when I think of leaders my mind kinda goes one way.

Anyway Kathryn takes this team of people who basically see no need to work together and convinces them that they've got problems and all need to be on the same page. She draws an analogy to a sports team... what would a basketball team be like if the coach went into the locker room at halftime and called the point guard into his office to talk about point-gaurding, then called the center into his office to talk about what the center needed to do, etc, and no one ever cared about what anyone else was doing?

There's bickering, backstabbing, blame, resource-hogging, defensiveness.

The main idea of this book is these five dysfunctions, which are drawn as a pyramid with "results" at the top and "trust" at the bottom:

Inattention to results
Avoidance of Accountability
Lack of Commitment
Fear of Conflict
Absence of Trust

Trust is at the bottom because if the each team member doesn't trust the others, he or she isn't honest. There's no real commitment. Conflict gets avoided. People haven't really bought in, because they didn't feel like they were part of things. It gets political. I highlighted this quote:

Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.


I'm in a team like this for a side project... I won't write out the details, but in reading this I'm understanding why nothing is getting done. In fact this is typical of what I've experienced when I tried to get random groups of programmers together, I've pitched an idea and said "go!" and nobody really goes. It's that trust and conflict thing, that's how people naturally buy in. It is kinda political.

Anyway, if you feel like reading managery stuff for a weekend, this book is a nice story with checklists at the end so you can evaluate your teams. Are you r meetings fun or boring? Do people like each other? We'd like to think none of this matters, that you can throw people who are individually talented in a room together and great things will happen, but we've all seen times when that wasn't the case and this book is an interesting illustration why.