In Defense of Lencioni

I really like the “Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” I like the story approach that provides context, I like the short explanation at the end, and the simple model just resonates with me.

book_searching_for_answers_400_clr_12525I was caught off guard when a colleague whom I respect said that she would not use Lencioni’s training materials because it was not based on solid research. She prefers to use Covey. So for the last week, I’ve been noodling that, and trying to figure out how I feel about it.

Let me preface all of this by saying (again) that I am skeptical about business books. Too often I have seen people take up a banner of “7 ways to this,” or “5 things that make you,” only to find that the simple answer they thought they found really wasn’t very simple. (more…)

What do Zappos and the World War I German Army have in common?

I’m so glad you asked.  You may need to bear with me on this one, but I think I can explain this pattern that I see.

ww1My son, a Marine Captain currently in Japan, sent me an article after a Skype discussion we had on leadership.  The article is titled “An Elusive Command Philosophy and a Different Command Culture.”  The author contrasts the leadership style of the WWI German army with today’s military leadership style, which he considers to be prescriptive and controlling.  The German army taught their leaders differently; they taught Auftragstaktik.  This was a command concept in which even the most junior officers were required to make far reaching decisions, and demanded a significant change in officer education. The difference:

Traditional military orders detail a plan, and how to execute that plan.

Auftragstaktik orders detail the objective, and expects the leader to assess the local context, and determine the best way to execute that order. (more…)

Remembering the Father of Organizational Learning

51pf1Ybod6L._SY300_Chris Argyris passed away last month, at the age of 90.  This Harvard Business School professor earned 14 honorary doctorates, produced 30 books, and published over 150 articles.  Anyone in the field of Human Resources should know of this man’s contributions to the field of understanding, as the frame a foundation for improving human performance.

Think about this.  We make decisions every day.  We go through a process to do so.  Argyris defined this process as the “ladder of inference.”  He pointed out that we often skip steps in the thinking process, for example starting with assumptions rather than real data.  Starting with assumptions, not only eliminates gathering facts, but also looking at the context surrounding the facts, and then interpreting the facts within the context. (more…)