"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" Book Writeup

October 23, 2012

What’s the point?
There are five dysfunctions that plague workplace teams. A good team leader will identify how the dysfunctions are manifesting in their team and take action to overcome them.

How was it?
The book uses an interesting format — a fictional company has hired a new CEO and we see meetings and interactions from her perspective as she tries to improve her executive team. The concept was new to me and helped to make the dysfunctions more concrete and the interactions more authentic.

I found the second dysfunction — fear of conflict — to be the most eye-opening. When a team lacks trust (the first dysfunction), people don’t feel like they can provide open criticism and have objective debates. Instead, you end up with stupid office politics and you start holding grudges against your team members.

All the dysfunctions chain together nicely; the book uses a pyramid structure, which is appropriate. A team that fears conflict will never get buy-in from everyone because without an opportunity to voice their opinions, the team’s vision will never be aligned. Without a collective direction, the team will fail to commit (the third dysfunction) and waste time waffling and revisiting decisions over and over again.

One of my takeaways was to spend less time worrying about personal career advancement and to try focusing on helping a team succeed.

Who should read it?
It’s a quick read and good for those working on teams that you don’t feel tight-knit; while the fictional company does make software, a development background is not required to read this one.

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