Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Indeed

To understand the dynamics of any type of team is critical, and Patrick Lencioni's book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has used an illustrative example of a company that provides a rich canvas for a lesson in "team learning". Several illustrations are critical well beyond the fabled 5 Dysfunctions. It's really a prime example of how people can effectively sabotage success by missing critical elements of team behavior.
The 5 Dysfunctions include; an Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Results. The storyline takes you into the executive suite as a new CEO comes in to take the reins. The issue is quickly getting to know the cast of characters and their unique personalities and business idiosyncrasies.
One of the key lessons is that many times a company's strongest and most productive worker can also be their biggest liability in trying to build a quality organization. When you simply allow yourself to pacify an egocentric type-A personality at the cost of the team... you frequently stunt the growth of the organization to the point of paralysis.
The book is quite effective in providing very illustrative examples of the challenges that await someone in search of creating a successfully functioning team. A second extremely valuable lesson is that it is as important to have a healthy atmosphere for discussion and even conflict, but even more important to understand how to turn that potential conflict into a mutually acceptable and agreed on mission for moving forward. This is a very good exercise in understanding the dynamic of true team interaction.

.... The Business Performance Detective

Friday, September 25, 2009

Maintaining Business Productivity

Business Performance Leadership

7 Critical Elements of Ongoing Productivity

One of the biggest challenges for most people, and for may companies, is to continue to stay alert and fresh in today's fast moving marketplace. Once a process, product or service becomes successful, we all have a tendency to become complacent in its ongoing execution. We fall victim to it being routine and after several quarters or several years of increasing results or even stable performance, we lose an edge on quality. In many case this is not because we don't have a "quality control" metric in place, but rather we may forgo vigilance to the changing market demand or we simply have not considered a natural product life cycle.

Any of us would be hard pressed to always be vigilant, but that is why it is important that we establish a company wide approach and involvement to the "how" and "what" and even "why" of our execution. The underlying issues are intertwined with the entire process we have established and what we expect from every member of our team. For purposes of a quick overview, it is possible to take abroad look at all of the areas that a company needs to address and I break them down into SEVEN critical areas of company-wide performance:

Do you value your team, do you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses and do you encourage new contributions and ongoing tactical contributions?
Do you have a product or service that your customers want, and at a price they can afford, and is it evaluated and updated on a regular basis?
Do you have a process that delivers quality, encourages improvement and is consistently replicated?
Do you encourage reliable performance by maintaining and improving your best practices?
Does your business provide a memorable product, a system for telling your story and something that your customers believe-in and recommend?
Have you developed a pricing strategy and do you have proceeds to reinvest in the business, update support systems and are able to reward your contributing team members?
Do you communicate regularly with your entire team and does your business organization operate with a sense of urgency, commitment and excitement?

All of these elements have a fundamental thread, beyond just accord with a Business Plan itself or the tactical execution of your mission. It comes full circle with a comprehensive approach to what you have defined as a commitment to maintain business and employee excellence. Many books have been written about what it takes to get to the top, like examples cited by In Search of Excellence, A Passion for Excellence, and more recently Good to Great. It is even more important to then get your team self-motivated to actually stay on top, as is illustrated in the recent book A-Ha Performance.

Ultimately it takes a real commitment to develop your people so that everyone has a hand in the complete process and feels motivated to continue. When your business team is built with a commitment to the value of their individual ownership, then the processes and procedures necessary for a continual improvement approach will be part of the goals that the Team aspires to achieve on an ongoing and regular basis.

--- The Performance Detective