This book was sitting in our office and people I've ran into quoted it or said "I read it and liked it"

I read it. I was however frustrated with it (due to the part it is a story). I'll explain how this book can be great and how not so great.

How this book is or can be great:

1. You haven't been a manager at all. It's a story of what you are diving into, the book describes the pitfalls you will run into.
2. You want to "explain" why teams do the things they do.
3. Throw some ideas out on how to help repair the problems it mentions (after the story)
4. Motivational tool for teams that are struggling, I can see the book getting people refocused.
5. It's easy to read, don't have to bang your head on terms.

Why it did not meet my expectations:

1. It was a story. A lot of us know the story of broken teams and most likely experienced it a few times in our lives which is why you have the book. It was like reading a book on Microsoft Vista where it tells you the story of the things you can do with Vista but doesn't tell you what to do until the end of the book.

"Jorrian started his computer excited that Windows Vista will turn on and show him a Desktop...but he was expecting trouble. While he was wondering how to get on to the Internet, he noticed an icon called Internet Explorer on the Desktop. His thinking was confidence. Jorrian clicked Internet Explorer and a program opened"

I wasn't expecting 184 pages of that.

2. The book assumes everyone knew their job description and acted on it 100%. All we needed to do was take 8 individuals that knew their job and acted on it 100% to work as a team. Definitely not realistic from what I've seen personally.

3. It wasn't a story on cold hard facts and "true story". If the entire 184 pages of story was on a real company with cold hard facts because of the principles in the book then I would have been 100% more engaged, as opposed to reading about a fictional management team. Reading at the end that "Decision Tech the fictional company caught up to their 2nd competitor and profit increased 20%" just wasn't convincing enough for me to [b]ACT [/b]on the book.

I could read a book on building a house, but if I am not personally compelled to build a house, doesn't mean I can build houses.

Sorry for making this so long, I didn't just want to write "This book is not recommended cause I didn't like it" or "I recommend this book to this type".

If anyone has used and acted on the model in this book because of the book, sharing your story would be fantastic!

rthibode's picture

Thanks Jorrian!

I wasn't really thinking about reading this book, but I still enjoyed your review, and appreciate the extra time you took to thoroughly explain your perspective on it.

akinsgre's picture

I agree Jorrian.

I enjoyed this reading this book, much like I enjoy reading a good piece of fiction. Only it didn't feel I was getting good management advice at the same time.

The problem, in my opinion, is the author put his lesson in the context of this one particular type of manager. After reading the book, I had good advice for handling a situation exactly as described, but not much else.

raynjuls's picture

I listened to this book as an audiobook, and found it to be quite good. I'm not sure that I would have finished it as a "booK', but the audio presentation was both entertaining and instructive. There is a reasonably lengthy discussion of the principles behind the story at the end of the audiobook that tied most of it together for me.

swifty27's picture

I'm sorry to be contrary but I have to take a completely opposing stance.

Lencioni did a brilliant job describing the dysfuntion that existed within the team dynamic by painting a picture of these key players that weren't coping. I loved the "story telling" aspect of the book and while I agree that the pay off comes at the end of the book (which was difficult to wait for) the lesson is excellent.

I'm a corporate Trainer working with Managers to improve leadership and I immediately took the principles found in the 5 dysfunctions and applied them to my organizations. Using the pyramid and some process work we helped several teams examine and improve their performance.

My recommendation would be to simply read the story portion of the book and enjoy the fictional nature of the scenario described and then read the applied section toward the end repeatedly until you get the purpose for each step. Unlike you I found it to be broadly applicable and have used these principles within business, at home, at church and many other settings to reinforce good team dynamics.

I hope more people will take the time to read and study this great piece of work!


tlhausmann's picture
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What resonated with me is that the absence of conflict does not mean everything is fine!

The book is a quick, easy read and offers a key bit of insight...part of our jobs as managers is not to avoid confrontations, it is about building effective teams.

swifty27's picture

[quote]What resonated with me is that the absence of conflict does not mean everything is fine![/quote]

Precisely my key take away too!

I can't tell you how many surprised looks I've received when I encourage, then facilitate healthy conflict and explain why it's essential to the best teams. I believe if more people understood this principle we'd have more meaningful meetings. Always a good thing!

Also I like the foundation of trust. I think we all know Trust is important and have some strategies for building trust within our teams. However, The 5 Dysfunctions pushed us to dive deeper into ways to develop solid trust and it benefited the teams we worked with.

Yes, I'll say it again... far from perfect but definitely a useful look at team dynamics.


JorrianGelink's picture

To update as it has been a month, I have been effectively able to execute the "Pyramid" during our manager meetings. The concepts are really simple but I can see why a story is written as there isn't anything magical about any of it (there aren't that many revolutionary steps to building trust).

The base is Trust, that's pretty simple to explain, but the story telling format does paint a picture of what trust looks like in the workplace which does help anyone reading it to see "what good looks like".

The book is a great starting point and a map on what direction your team should go in before it begins any project.

Thought I'd make an update, follow up review in practice haha.

ptswhite's picture

Thanks for your detailed review "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" , Jorrian. I think the various ways this book has been received by us all reflects the reality alluded to by akinsgre--we are individuals with different styles and absorb information in our own ways.  So be it.

I used this model . . . and just the model, not the story . . . to help prepare a large division of our organization for some significant changes.  I've also successfully used it with other groups.  The basic premise has always been well received, and in fact I've used it often enough now that I've found that people's reactions to it can be used as a barometer of team cohesiveness.  Believe me when I tell you that people look longingly at the Pyramid in organizations where debate has been discouraged.  It's almost painful to watch them at first, but as trust is developed and communication becomes more honest things get much, much better.

I think the thing I like about Lencioni's stuff is that it shares some key similarities to M-T.  His solutions are succinct and have concrete action steps.  Sure, the steps differ from M-T but the underlying principles are the same.  By spending time with both approaches one can gain a more complete tool kit.  Here's my suggestion, if you don't the "why" the story is intended generate then skip to the back of the book and dive into the model.  That worked for me in what I think are two of Lencioni's better books, "Death By Meeting", and "Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars."


     - "Admiral Hopper was right!"