The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

the5dysfunctionsofateamNo matter how good you are as a leader or how good your team, there is always room for growth.  No matter how matter how many teams a leader has led, a new team always brings new challenges.  Or as I said to my last HR Director, I’ve managed plenty of people before, but I’ve never managed THIS person.

I was lent this book to get a fresh perspective and I really enjoyed it.  Told as a fable of a new president coming into a failing company, it takes you through the critical building blocks that need to be in place for a team to work.  It seems simple enough to say trust or accountability, but the fable is a good way to show what a team looks like when those pieces aren’t in place.  At the end of the book there is a helpful framework for evaluating the dysfunctions in your team and suggestions to fix issues.

What I found just as helpful was how realistic the author was about teams going through change.  The leader may be great.  The change may be necessary.  You may be able to demonstrate the need for change and the positive outcomes of making the change.  But that doesn’t mean people will be willing to make the change.  Logic doesn’t bring change.  You can’t just reason someone into making change.  And when someone won’t change, then it’s not always a tragedy if they leave.

Change is really hard.  And sometimes as bad as dysfunction is, it’s comfortable.  Sometimes the dysfunction gives you an excuse for why things aren’t working or something to blame for failure.

This book was helpful for reframing and refreshing my memory about teams and change.  I would recommend it to anyone, but particularly for managers and leaders.  Good teams are hard to build, but they make life so much easier in the end.

Commonwealth

commonwealthBel Canto is one of my all time favourite books.  It set the bar high in my expectations of Ann Patchett’s books.

With a different author’s name on the cover I would say I quite enjoyed Commonwealth.  The author showed a lot of skill moving back and forth between the past and present and even in chronological order in the past.  There were twists and surprises.  Characters grew and changed through the novel.  Your sympathy moved between the characters.  The narrator moved between characters.  This was a technically very well written novel.

However, it does have Patchett’s name on the cover.  This feels like one of her second (or even third) tier books.  The premise is odd.  It starts with someone bringing a large bottle of gin to a christening party.  Attendees observed that the bottle of gin seems to miraculously regenerate, lasting for hours.  It’s mixed with fresh orange juice from the tree in the backyard.  Gin and orange juice shouldn’t mix, and yet somehow they do.

A strange beginning, right?

The cast of characters grows through the novel as two couples breakup and find new partners and then more new partners.  And the kids grow up and find partners and have kids.  They are all flawed.  They all have plenty of their own baggage.  And they weave in and out of each other lives.  I needed a family tree to keep track of everyone.

This was a good enough book, but I can’t put my finger on why it wasn’t great.  It didn’t have magic.  I want to read this with a book group to get other opinions on what’s happened.  How did it fall short when it technically checked all the boxes.