The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization

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Harvard Business Press, 1993 - Business & Economics - 291 pages
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Teams are the key to improving performance in all kinds of organizations. Yet today's business leaders consistently overlook opportunities to exploit their potential, confusing teams with teamwork, empowerment, or participative management. In The Wisdom of Teams, two senior McKinsey & Company consultants argue that we cannot meet the challenges ahead - from total quality to customer service to innovation - without teams.
Teams are turning companies around. Motorola relied heavily on teams to surpass its Japanese competition in producing the lightest, smallest, and highest-quality cellular phones. At 3M, teams are critical to meeting the company's well-publicized goal of producing half of each year's revenues from the previous five years' innovations. And from Desert Storm to life-saving surgeries, Kodak's Zebra Team proved the worth of black-and-white film manufacturing in a world where color was king.
The Wisdom of Teams includes dozens of stories and case examples involving real people and situations. Their accomplishments, insights, and enthusiasm are eloquent testament to the power of teams.
Katzenbach and Smith talked with hundreds of people in more than fifty different teams in thirty companies to discover what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness.
Among their findings are elements of both common and uncommon sense: commitment to performance goals and common purpose is more important to team success than team-building, opportunities for teams exist in all parts of the organization, formal hierarchy is actually good for teams - and vice versa, successful team leaders do not fit an ideal profile and are not necessarily the most senior people on the team, real teams are the most common characteristic of successful change efforts at all levels, top management teams are often smaller and more difficult to sustain, despite the increased number of teams, their performance potential is largely unrecognized and underutilized, team "endings" can be as important to manage as team beginnings, teams produce a unique blend of performance and personal learning results.
Wisdom lies in recognizing a team's unique potential to deliver results and in understanding its many benefits - development of individual members, team accomplishments, and stronger companywide performance. Katzenbach and Smith show why teams will be the primary building blocks of company performance in the future. Management at all levels - particularly at the top - cannot afford to ignore this powerful approach for meeting the competitive challenges of the 1990s and beyond.

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The wisdom of teams: creating the high-performance organization

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The importance of teams has become a cliche of modern business theory, but few have a clear idea of what it means. In this new edition of their best-selling primer, Katzenbach and Smith try to impart ... Read full review

The wisdom of teams: creating the high-performance organization

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The authors, who are both consultants, conducted extensive interviews with companies to discover how successful teams are created and sustained. The result is not a research report but a collection of ... Read full review


Why Teams?
One Team A Story of Performance
Team Basics A Working Definition and Discipline
HighPerformance Teams Very Useful Models
Becoming a Team
The Team Performance Curve
Moving up the Curve From Individual to Team Performance
Team Leaders
Teams and Performance The Reinforcing Cycle
Teams and Major Change An Inevitable Combination
Teams at the Top A Difficult Choice
Top Managements Role Leading to the HighPerformance Organization
A Call to Action
Teams Researched for Book
Selected Readings

Teams Obstacles and Endings Getting Unstuck
Exploiting the Potential

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Page 9 - Teams outperform individuals acting alone or in larger organizational groupings, especially when performance requires many different types of skills and experiences.3'1 There are several well-known phenomena that explain why teams perform well.
Page 3 - A demanding performance challenge tends to create a team. The hunger for performance is far more important to team success than team-building exercises, special incentives, or team leaders with ideal profiles. In fact, teams often form around such challenges without any help or support from management. Conversely, potential teams without such challenges usually fail to become teams.
Page 9 - Real teams are deeply committed to their purpose, goals, and approach. High-performance team members are also very committed to one another. Both understand that the wisdom of teams comes with a focus on collective work-products, personal growth, and performance results. However meaningful, "team" is always a result of pursuing a demanding performance challenge.

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