Tag Archives: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Sixth Dysfunction of a Team (with apology/appreciation to Patrick Lencioni)

Bob Morris has reviewed over 10 million books by now (ok – the actual number is over 2,000 – but if you get to know the man, you think he has read every book!  He is an amazing font of knowledge).  His reviews appear in a lot of places, including Amazon.com, and of course here on our blog.

So – here’s a question:  which of his reviews has been looked at more than any other on our blog?  It is his review of the Patrick Lencioni book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. (read his review here).   And it is not number one by a little bit – but by a whole lot.

The book is terrific.  I just checked, and at this moment, it is ranked in the top 650 in books over-all on Amazon, and is #1 in “teams,” #1 in “Human Resources & Personnel Management,” and #1 in “Entrepreneurship” among Amazon’s sales categories.  And, remember, the book came out in 2002.  Amazing!

Is it that good a book?  Yes.  I have presented my synopsis of the book, and it is always easily grasped, it is true to real-world circumstances, and it is always appreciated.

Here are the five dysfunctions of a team, from the book:

1.            Dysfunction one:  an absence of trust among team members. – (resulting problem:  invulnerability)
2.            Dysfunction two:  fear of conflict. — (resulting problem:  artificial harmony)
3.            Dysfunction three:  lack of commitment. — (resulting problem:  ambiguity)
4.            Dysfunction four:  an avoidance of accountability. — (resulting problem:  low standards)
5.            Dysfunction five:  inattention to results. — (resulting problem:  status and ego)

And here’s another way to look at this model:  imagine how members of truly cohesive teams behave:

1.              They trust one another.
2.              They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
3.              They commit to decisions and plans of action.
4.              They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
5.              They focus on the achievement of collective results.

So here is the question.  With its enduring popularity, is it really that good of a book, or, is it that building and maintaining a truly functional team is really that big of a problem? Though the book is terrific, I think the second is the real truth.

Whenever I speak about this book, or related subjects, I ask: Have you ever seen a dysfunctional team? Every hand goes up.  Always.  Dysfunctional teams are everywhere around us.  And, though many teams have been helped by reading this book, I suspect that the overall functionality of teams has not improved in the last eight years.

There are a lot of dysfunctional teams out there!

So, maybe the sixth dysfunction of a team is this:

• Dysfunction six:  a failure to recognize the likelihood of being a dysfunctional team. – (resulting problem:  blindness to reality)

If you are on a team; if you lead a team; never assume that you will be, and remain, functional.  You have to be intentional about being fully functional.

It is work to read a book.  It is hard work to be honest about circumstances, and take actual, tangible steps to improve, correct, change…   You’ve got your work cut out for you.  And one place to start is to read this book – as a team!


You can purchase my synopsis of this book, with handout + audio, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

Everyone is Reading it – Are You?

Here’s an interesting little piece of insight — a lot of people claim to have read books that they have not actually read.

Why?  Because, to stay in the “admired/with it” group, they have to appear as with it.  And reading the current hot books, in some circles, especially some business circles, is a way to be and stay with it.

Seth Godin recently captured this in one of his short and tremendously insightful blog posts.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

The reason the New York Times matters isn’t about the delivery of news (it’s old by the time it arrives) or even the analysis (which is often spotty or wrong or banal or biased or boring). No, the reason it matters is because everyone else reads it….  You can change the definition of “everyone” and customize it for your industry or passion, but the fact is, we need to read what everyone else is reading in order to have a sense of being in sync. If it’s in there, it matters, because everyone else read it.

This fact — that we all need to read what everybody is reading in order to keep up with the buzz, “to have a sense of being in sync” — partially explains why the First Friday Book Synopsis (and other book summary entities — there are many!) is so valuable.  We identify most of the “hot” books, and then provide enough of the content to help our participants appear to be with it.  I think Godin is onto something here.  We have to read, or at least be very familiar with, the book — you know, the book everybody is talking about.  In the last few years, that book has been:

The World is Flat


Hot, Flat, and Crowded,


Good to Great








The Tipping Point


The Black Swan


Never Eat Alone


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team



and…  (Yes, I know I’ve missed some…)

What will be next on the “with it” list?  I don’t know, but this I do know — we will choose the next “with it” book for a presentation at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (We haven’t missed many over the last 11+ years!)

Are you feeling like one of the with it group?

(And, by the way – most of these books are worth reading and knowing about for the useful content in the books, and not just for your reputation).

{To purchase our synopses of most of these books, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.