Teaming Today!

March 27, 2013 by Bill Bradley


Title: There’s a New Team in Town – Are You a Member?

Competency: team building

Who benefits: executives, leaders and team members

Consultant Usage: must read for any one consulting at the organizational level

What’s it about? I haven’t written much about teams and team building lately.  So what’s new?  Actually a lot and some people are looking at teams and team building in entirely new ways.

Let me begin with Amy Edmondson’s recent book Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy.  “They” say don’t judge a book by its cover.  That is “shouldism”.  Too much “shoulding” in this world.  There are two reasons to read this book before you even open it.  The first is on the cover.  It is a Jossey-Bass book. In 40 years of reading J-B books I have never been disappointed.  This one won’t disappoint either.

If you are interested in the topic, the second reason to invest in this book is that it is endorsed by Edgar Schein.  Professor Schein is one of the greatest social research scientists of our lifetime.  I took a class from him once and I still have my notes.  Took more notes in that class than any other class at any level in my education.  The Man drips facts and figures.  He oozes information.  He imparts knowledge.  He speaks; I listen!  Here is what he says about Professor Edmondson’s book:

“I have known Amy’s work for more than a decade and I am very pleased that she has now pulled together the main points that have emerged from her seminal research on the processes that underlie teamwork.”  He goes on to explain why the book is both important and timely.

What drew me in was her focus on the speed and complexity of work.  In older models we trusty advisers advocated “work some; learn some”.  At one time I advocated setting aside a percent of time for learning.  I am out-of-date.  Professor Edmondson says there isn’t enough time to separate the two.  They must be done simultaneously.  Learning must be built into processes.

A book summary in one sentence would look something like this: Part I Teaming – the core activities; Part II Leadership – four leadership actions; and Part III Organizational Implementation – “diagnosing, designing and implementing an iterative process that ensures continuous learning and improvement”.

Space limitation prevents me from saying more other than giving it my highest recommendation.  For further information and a detailed book review, I suggest you read The Importance of Teaming.  There is an excellent summary of the book along with key quotes from the book.

Teaming in the Twenty-First Century is a six month follow-up article/review that focuses on the credentials of the author (Amy Edmondson) and also offers a link to excerpts from the book.

Finally, for a different take with a discussion of the roles and problems associated with introverted and extroverted team members, enjoy Should We Rethink the Promise of Teams?

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Leadership Development

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