Book review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

A few weeks ago, a colleague with a pop star nickname gave me a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. This was an interesting book to read: I am lukewarm on it overall, but it’s not bad.

The book, like the author’s other books (I’m going to review one other one in a bit), takes a fictional approach for the first 80% or so. He’s working through a virtual staff meeting with a new boss and illustrating issues of trust, teamwork, coordination, communication, delegation, etc.
Then, near the end of the book, the virtual meeting ends, and he shares his conclusions in a more standard academic format.
The writing is decent: clear, crisp, concise, easy to follow. However, it’s really verbose and repetitive. The key messages are delivered at least five times each, using just about the same words. I found that annoying after the second time.
I think the dysfunctions covered, themselves, are pretty good. Being in a meeting with everyone silent is not a good sign of teamwork: people *should* feel free to voice disagreements, ask questions, push back, and not just accept what’s told to them if it doesn’t make sense.
The symptom of people silently accepting whatever the speaker says because he or she is the authority is not new. I think it’s extremely common, and very wrong.
Back when I was at school, I routinely pushed back on teachers, professors, and other lecturers. Some of my classmates thought it was rude or impolite, and we disagreed about that.
Building a good team is a social enterprise, and I think it’s a skill a lot of us can acquire with enough thought, practice, and attention. But many of us choose not to. We’re tempted to focus on the technical pieces of our work, because chances are that’s where we have the most skill.
(Note that by technical I don’t necessarily mean just computer programming. Technical could be sketching out designs by hand, if that’s what you do best, or acting alone in front of a mirror as opposed to with partners, etc.)
Overall, a decent book, not amazing.
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