The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Discussion Part 1

This blog is a continuation of my discussion of the ideas in the book.  See last weeks blog.

I have been thinking about the book and how the lessons could be applied to my previous experiences.  Several years ago we formed a consulting firm and we did very well for several years and I think the partnership became dysfunctional.  After reading the book, I think one of the problems was that we did not share a common goal.  We were a highly talented group of individuals who wanted to further our own goals.  

In the book, at each of the team building sessions the new CEO introduces the session with the challenge for the executive team, a highly talented group of people who were under performing their competition.  I think that also was one of our problems.   The CEO kept reminding the team that their challenge was to take leadership in their market.  

So what went wrong with our consulting firm?  Initially after we formed the firm, our goal was to be able to continue our consulting practice serving our client well.  As we became more successful and the partnership matured, each partner was pursuing his own practice without much thought to the overall success of the firm.  I think each person's assumption was that if I can be successful, the firm will be successful.  We were a bunch of people building our own practices.  Anybody who took his eye of his practice and focussed on the firm would lose his power to contribute to the revenue.    

We had some common values and did quality consulting work and served our clients well.  The code word for our problem was "overall management."  I now see that likely we did not share a common goal and wanted to develop our own parts of the business.  

So what might we have done differently?  At the time we did try some team building exercises but they were of the type that took us out of our environment and did some good exercises.  The difficulty we had was translating the lessons into our work environment.  

I think some stronger leadership on the working on our common goal and making some hard decisions about people who did not share the common goal.   I wonder if we had read the book and worked through some of the dysfunctions of the team would things have turned out differently.

I encourage all organizations to take the ideas from the book seriously and treat the challenge of building a team a a work in process.   

I welcome peoples comments and reactions to the book.    

  1. Jim Hayward Reply

    I think that is a great approach.
    However my note was about teams and the fact that we were not a team but many individuals.
    I believe you have an excellent reputation and are doing well with that. I also know that GH had a good reputation. However I think we were very much individuals all focussed on our practices. We did help each other but ………
    I do not think our biggest problem was growth but teamwork. Nobody outside the organization would see that.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  2. Graham Reply

    It’s interesting to me that G&H was always perceived in the Toronto market to be a wonderful company to work for and with. And yet you seem to struggle with its limitations and short comings.
    I suspect if you polled the people who worked with or for G&H today that they would give it high marks as an organization. It is certainly true that Stephen and I would love Project X to have even half the reputation that G&H had.
    If a mistake was made it was the inability of the partners to live with the fact that growth for growth sake was not the holy grail . Hind sight is 20/20, but if we spend all of our time looking in the rear view mirror we’ll end up driving into something that is in front of us.
    We are currently focused on delivering value, being profitable and having patience on growth. We recognize growth for the sake of growth isn’t good for us or our clients’ long term health.
    I hope that’s not a dysfunctional approach.

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