In the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A leadership fable Patrick Lencioni explains the essence of collaboration within a team. The book has been available for a number of years, but I found it on many lists, for example as one of the recommended books within SAFe, so that my curiosity was triggered.
The book consists of two parts, where the first, most voluminous part tells a fable in which we see a non-functioning management team struggle in her sometimes difficult way to a truly cooperative team and the second part deals with understanding of and countering the five dysfunctions.
In the fable, we follow the newly appointed CEO Catherine, who was commissioned by the board to turn the management team into a truly collaborative team that can produce results. In a number of off-sites she starts with het management team to build a real team. She explains step by step everyone the triangle with the five dysfunctions of team. As a first step, she discusses what “absence of trust” means. Through a number of exercises, she works on improving mutual trust. Then she grasps the fifth frustration ‘inattention to results’ and sets the goal for the coming period with the group. Through a variety of exercises, the other three frustrations also come up for ‘fear of conflict’, ‘lack of commitment’ and ‘avoidance of accountability’. It is as expected, really learning by mistakes, three steps forward and two steps back, but eventually a real team emerges.
To download: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (QRC, 180123) v1.0
In the second part the author zooms in on the triangle used in the fable with the five dysfunctions. We get a summary of the model and a team questionnaire containing fifteen questions to determine which dysfunctions are / are not applicable for the team
Subsequently, we get for each dysfunction, characteristics of teams where the dysfunction is present and characteristics of teams that have mastered the dysfunction. In addition, we get a number of suggestions on how to counter the dysfunction and what role the leader should play in this.
Finally, the relationship between the various dysfunctions is explained. The first step is trust. If there is trust, one dares to enter into conflicts through which involvement is created. By being involved one feels accountable and with this the desired results can be achieved.
Conclusion: an easily readable book that clearly highlights the essence of teamwork. The five dysfunctions offer a nice handle to show whether or not a team is functioning properly. A must read for agile teams. The team questionnaire (fifteen questions) is a simple tool to determine which dysfunctions are / are not applicable for the team. If you look further at the suggestions offered to tackle the dysfunctions, you will get a toolbox to turn a group of people into a real team. It’s a pity that the suggestions offered are not more concrete.
To order: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
For those who prefer a manga like edition, I can recommend the illustrated leadership fable The five dysfunctions of a team, illustrated by Kensuke Okabayashi (see example pages)