Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has information that seems like it should be common sense to everyone. Absence of trust, fear of conflict, etc… all of these are negative habits and emotions that erode the ability for a team to actually be effective.

One result is meetings becoming non-productive time-killers in which eliciting even the most innocuous discussion is met with fierce resistance.

I see the principles in this book functioning the best in healthy corporate cultures and passionate non-profits. Where I don’t see these concepts functioning well are in caustic cultures and in disruptive periods in a company’s existence.

While it’s true that every one of these dysfunctions can be triggered internally, possibly exacerbated by a poor leader of the team, the root of these problems can often be traced to the culture of the company or immediate department in which the team functions.

In lean times, when there is a Survivor culture, detection and exposing of someone else’s weakness is the simplest way to survive another week. It’s hard to not be a dysfunctional team when you’re basically a pack of starving feral dogs.

In some environments, dissent can often mark people who even turn out to be right. (Why didn’t you successfully argue your case? It’s your fault we didn’t go with your opinion.)

I guess all management books operate on the principle that you have a basically good environment and good people, and this book is no exception. If you have worthwhile people for the most part, I can see where this book may be helpful, but then again, you probably have functional team–right?