Workplace teambuilding activities have increased dramatically over the past two decades—by, studies indicate, more than 50 percent. In all kinds of companies, leaders believe that when you bring bright, motivated people together for a common purpose, they’ll gel into a cooperative, innovative, productive force. In reality, teamwork rarely just “happens” and then continues to flow. Team members often clash and compete with—if not sabotage—one another, resulting in a big waste of time, money, and talent.
What separates the exceptions—teams that thrive, excel, and consistently deliver? An expert on team performance, Robert Bruce Shaw has dedicated extensive research, exclusive interviews, and up-close observation to identifying what outstanding teams do right—and differently. In EXTREME TEAMS: Why Pixar, Netflix, AirBnB, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail (AMACOM; February 16, 2017: $27.95 Hardcover), Shaw reveals highly effective teamwork at work inside seven highly successful enterprises. These companies all share a track record of significant growth and financial success, the ability to outmaneuver established competitors and prosper in the face of adversity, and a zest for experimenting with fresh, daring, sometimes daunting approaches to teambuilding and teamwork.
“The difficulty of designing and supporting extreme teams is the reason why they are a competitive advantage,” Shaw states upfront. “If managing these teams was easy, they would be less valuable because they could be copied easily. There needs to be a great deal of thought, and ongoing experimentation, to get the formula right.”
For those willing to put in the effort and raring to rise to the challenge, EXTREME TEAMS offers a blueprint for developing teams modeled on the best of the best—Pixar, Netflix, AirBnB, Patagonia, Alibaba, Whole Foods, and Zappos—and the five success practices they share:
- Foster a shared obsession. Extreme teams often have as a “cult-like” quality. Members view their work as a calling—much more than a job—and embrace a higher purpose that shapes their collective thinking and behavior.
- Value fit over experience. Companies with extreme teams seek out candidates with the right mix of personal motives, values, and temperament to be a true team player. Cultural fit matters more than job history or functional skills.
- Focus more, then less. Extreme teams are tightly aligned around the company’s top few priorities while remaining open to new ideas. For members, the ongoing challenge is figuring out what not to do.
- Push both harder and softer. Extreme teams are simultaneously tough in driving for measurable results on a few highly visible targets and supportive of individuals to create an environment of collaboration, trust, and loyalty.
- Take comfort in discomfort. Extreme teams embrace conflict and tension. members push themselves and each other to speak up, question the status quo, take bold risks, and confront hard truths.
Throughout, slice-of-work examples shed light on how on how cutting-edge teams operate by these practices—from the intense motivation to make great films that pull Pixar’s team members to push together, regardless of the individual toll, to Zappos’ way of working the cultural hallmark of “weirdness” into its application process. EXTREME TEAMS makes teambuilding meaningful and worth doing differently.
About the author:
ROBERT BRUCE SHAW is a consultant specializing in organizational and team performance. An in-demand speaker, he is also the author of Trust in the Balance and Leadership Blindspots. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
Author: Robert Bruce Shaw
Pub. Date: February 16, 2017
Price: $27.95 Hardcover Pages: 256
Category: Book Reviews