The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization

Jon R. Katzenbach Managing Director, Strategy& US

It's a rare business book that rises to the level of the classic. The Wisdom of Teams is among this few. In this book, first published by Harvard Business School Press in 1993 and re-released in 2015 as a perennial classic edition, Katzenbach Center founder and PwC Managing Director Jon Katzenbach and his co-author Douglas K. Smith argue that we cannot meet the challenges ahead, from total quality to customer service to innovation, without teams.

Teams are a flexible and efficient way to enhance organizational performance. But most business leaders overlook opportunities to exploit their potential, confusing teams with teamwork or sharing. Katzenbach and Smith's research involved interviews with hundreds of people from thirty companies, and revealed what differentiates various levels of team performance, where and how teams work best, and how to enhance their effectiveness. Among the findings: formal hierarchy is actually good for teams; successful team leaders fit no ideal profile; commitment to performance goals is more important than commitment to team-building goals; and team “endings” can be as important to manage as team beginnings. The wisdom of teams lies in recognizing their unique potential to deliver results and in understanding their many benefits.

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