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The Discipline of Teams

In: Business and Management

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THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION

BEST OF HBR

1993
It w o n t surprise anyone to find an article on teams by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith figuring into an issue devoted to high performance. While Peter Drucker may have been the first to point out that a team-based organization can be highly effective, Katzenbach and Smith's work made it possible for companies to implement the idea. In this groundbreaking 1993 article, the authors say that if managers want tomakebetterdecisionsaboutteamsjthey must be clear about what a team is. They define a team as"a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable."That definition lays down the discipline that teams must share to be effective. Katzenbach and Smith discuss the four elements - common commitment and purpose, performance goals, complementary skills, and mutual accountability - that make teams function. They also classify teams into three varieties - teams that recommend things, teams that make or do things, and teams that run things - and describe how each type faces different challenges.

The Discipline of Teams by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith
I arly in the 1980s, Bill Greenwood

What makes the difference between a team that performs and one that doesn't?

(d a small band of rebel railroaders )n most of the top management of Burlington Northern and created a multibillion-dollar business in "piggybacking" rail services despite widespread resistance, even resentment, within the company. The Medical Products Group at Hewlett-Packard owes most of its leading performance to the remarkable efforts of Dean Morton, Lew Platt, Ben Holmes, Dick Alberding, and a handful of their colleagues who revitalized a health care business that most others had written off. At...

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