Katzenbach and Smith’s team guidelines

Since I’ve been working on how to structure teams to do innovation work, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the basics in the form of The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith. One point they make is to differentiate between “performing teams” structured in a mindful way and other groups of people merely working together. A performing team has certain characteristics…

  • It is small in number
  • The members have complementary skills
  • They are all working towards a commonly identified purpose
  • They have group performance goals, in addition to individual goals
  • They have a common approach to working together
  • They hold themselves mutually accountable, not just individually.

In the book and article The Discipline of Teams, they identify three kinds of teams:

  1. those that recommend things — task forces or project groups
  2. those that make or do things — manufacturing, operations, or marketing groups
  3. those that run things — groups that oversee some significant functional activity.

For managers, the key is knowing where in the organization these teams should be encouraged.

2 Responses to “Katzenbach and Smith’s team guidelines”

  1. Alok Jain says:

    Victor,

    The point you are talking about is very important, what are your views on kinds of leadership that can run such a team succesfuly, with diverse work style, complementry knowledge and an unknown outcome, the role of leadership takes key role.

    Best Regards
    Alok Jain

  2. Victor says:

    Hi Alok, thanks for writing. While “leadership” is important and needed, it’s an ambiguous concept to address head-on. Regarding teams, I think they need a clear goal and excellent facilitation.