Saturday, August 19, 2006

Secrets of Great Teams

There are some nice short articles on teamwork in business at CNN's site for Fortune.

The top story, Why Dream Teams Fail, points out some of the failure modes also described in other resources on teamwork, but in somewhat different terms:

  • Signing too many all-stars
  • Failing to build a culture of trust
  • Tolerating competing agendas
  • Letting conflicts fester
  • Hiding from the real issues
The most interesting notes in there were on the difficulty of finding dream executive teams, because as you climb the ladder, you're supposed to be an all-star. So of course there's less likelihood of collaboration and trust at that level. When there is, it's usually a pair consisting of one famous "outward-facing" figure, and a lesser known, internally focused-on-execution person.

The article on the Motorola RAZR is a little painful; it's another case of skunk works innovative design breaking corporate rules and even breaking human factors rules. The importance of risk-taking and mold-breaking comes up a lot in these kinds of business success tales.

A good sidebar piece looks at optimal size of teams: 4.6 people. Another one looks at the network of communication in an organization and how it differs from the org chart. You know I love anything that looks beyond the tree and makes networks:

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