The Wisdom of Teams

Creating the high-performance organization

Jon R. Katzenbach, Douglas K. Smith

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 1993, 291 pages

ISBN: 978-0-07-711168-7

Keywords: Leadership, Management

Last modified: April 22, 2019, 7:03 p.m.

The Wisdom of Teams include stories and case examples taken from the real world. It shows why teams will be the primary building blocks of company performance in the future.

Teams are 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. It argues that we cannot meet the challenges ahead, from innovation to quality customer service, without teams.

The authors talked to many different teams to discover what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness.

Their key findings include:

  • 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 characteristics of successful change efforts at all levels;
  • top management teams are often smaller and more difficult to maintain;
  • performance potential of teams is largely unrecognized and underutilized.
  • Prologue: A Note About What to Expect
  • Part One: Understanding Teams
    1. Why Teams?
    2. One Team: A Story of Performance
    3. Team Basics: A Working Definition and Discipline
    4. High-Performance Teams: Very Useful Models
  • Part Two: Becoming a Team
    1. The Team Performance Curve
    2. Moving up the Curve: From Individual to Team Performance
    3. Team Leaders
    4. Teams, Obstacles, and Endings: Getting Unstuck
  • Part Three: Exploiting the Potential
    1. Teams and Performance: The Reinforcing Cycle
    2. Teams and Major Change: An Inevitable Combination
    3. Teams at the Top: A Difficult Choice
    4. Top Management's Role: Leading to the High-Performance Organization
  • Epilogue: A Call to Action
  • Appendix: Teams Researched for Book