The 5 Dysfunctions of a team is a book every organization needs to read if they want to know what it takes to create a truly functional team. The book starts off with a narrative story and ends with a practical summary of the 5 dysfunctions and solutions to combat them.
The narrative is about a dysfunctional team which has brought its company to the point of near collapse. Enter the main character, Kathryn, who’s sole job is to rescue this company. Despite doubt from her superiors, and doubts from the team, she stands strongly behind her beliefs that a dysfunctional team is what has led to the company’s downfall. It is her mission to teach this team how to become functional.
We learn about Kathryn’s approach using the 5 Dysfunctions. She teaches the team about how to take an honest look at themselves and how they interact with one another. Through this narrative, the reader is allowed to see some of the most common pitfalls of teams with dysfunctions. The reader also sees how Kathryn decides to handle these dysfunctions, which helps to show the challenges managers face when trying to create functional teams. I believe this book did a good job of explaining both why it is important to be able to recognize these dysfunctions and the strategies needed to change them.
While reading the narrative about the team, I was most impressed with the lead character, Kathryn. I enjoyed reading about the ways she would think though her responses to situations before acting. Her actions were very intentional and, in the rare case she did slip up or say something unbefitting, she typically forgave herself easily and apologized promptly. It helped me to evaluate my own ways of dealing with conflict resolution in group settings.
One dysfunction that I found to be particularly helpful was the Lack of Commitment dysfunction. After reading about the main causes of this dysfunction, I quickly realized that I exhibit a lot of these characteristics when making a decision. I want to know all of the risks and all of the benefits. I want to know every best and worse case scenario before committing to a decision. Failing to commit fully to anything because of the possibility of something better, or the possibility of making a mistake. It was helpful to read about the solutions to this problem in the text because I can better understand how to apply these techniques to my own life. I think the Creating Deadlines solution sounded like the most helpful for myself. I have already started implementing the Contingency Analysis solution and have found it extremely helpful in moving forward with decisions.
While all of the information from this book has been extremely insightful, an underlying theme I found is that while most of the solutions to the dysfunctions seem simple in theory, they may be fairly difficult to implement in reality. After reading this book, I can definitely see ways in which I could improve my role within a team, but I’m also wise enough to realize that these strategies are easier said than done.
I wonder if making others aware of my weaknesses (a.k.a. Being vulnerable) could help to keep myself accountable. By making it known that I have weaknesses, but that I want to change them, others may challenge me in times where I may naturally exhibit that weakness. This book truly helped me to see the importance of people working together and what it takes to make that happen.