Teams are the key to improving performance in all kinds of organizations. Yet today's business leaders consistently overlook opportunities to exploit their potential, confusing teams with teamwork, empowerment, or participative management. In The Wisdom of Teams, two senior McKinsey & Company consultants argue that we cannot meet the challenges ahead - from total quality to customer service to innovation - without teams.
Teams are turning companies around. Motorola relied heavily on teams to surpass its Japanese competition in producing the lightest, smallest, and highest-quality cellular phones. At 3M, teams are critical to meeting the company's well-publicized goal of producing half of each year's revenues from the previous five years' innovations. And from Desert Storm to life-saving surgeries, Kodak's Zebra Team proved the worth of black-and-white film manufacturing in a world where color was king.
The Wisdom of Teams includes dozens of stories and case examples involving real people and situations. Their accomplishments, insights, and enthusiasm are eloquent testament to the power of teams.
Katzenbach and Smith talked with hundreds of people in more than fifty different teams in thirty companies to discover what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness.
Among their findings are elements of both common and uncommon sense: commitment to performance goals and common purpose is more important to team success than team-building, opportunities for teams exist in all parts of the organization, formal hierarchy is actually good for teams - and vice versa, successful team leaders do not fit an ideal profile and are not necessarily the most senior people on the team, real teams are the most common characteristic of successful change efforts at all levels, top management teams are often smaller and more difficult to sustain, despite the increased number of teams, their performance potential is largely unrecognized and underutilized, team "endings" can be as important to manage as team beginnings, teams produce a unique blend of performance and personal learning results.
Wisdom lies in recognizing a team's unique potential to deliver results and in understanding its many benefits - development of individual members, team accomplishments, and stronger companywide performance. Katzenbach and Smith show why teams will be the primary building blocks of company performance in the future. Management at all levels - particularly at the top - cannot afford to ignore this powerful approach for meeting the competitive challenges of the 1990s and beyond.
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