Mark Pearl

Creating great teams is one of those books that before reading you expect to learn one thing, and then while and after reading the book it actually handles something different.

In essence the book revolves around launching a team self-selection event. The majority of the chapters are a hands on guide on the work they authors did launching a self-selection the event with a company called TradeMe.

At the essence of team self-selection is the motivation made in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. Daniel motivates that at a principle level there are three things that are the best motivators for people working in creative, complex, right brain activities:

1) Autonomy - freedom over aspects of work, how to do the work, who does the work, etc.
2) Mastery - becoming better at a subject or task that matters.
3) Purpose - give people an opportunity to fulfil their natural desire to contribute to a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.

Team self-selection helps fulfill all 3 principles at varying degrees.

While I have not been involved in an organization that embraces team self-selection - I have worked in a team that has embraced this practice for many years. At a fundamental level the team decides who comes into it and who leaves. It’s empowering and at times scary.

I would have liked this book to have handled some of the longer running challenges that self-selecting teams face. For instance, once a team has gone down the road of self-selection, how does it handle bringing on new team members down the road. What are the dynamics to be aware of when a team has an established culture - how is this communicated to potential members, and even more challenging, how does the team handle situations where it becomes apparent that a member needs to be changed (is this something that is still handled by a traditional manager, is this something handled survivor style where you get voted off the island, etc.).

One area that resonated with me were the stages of doubt:

1) What if it Doesn’t Work
2) Inpspiration (What if it does work!)
3) Acceptance (How will we make it work)

All said, I found Creating Great Teams to be a great practical read. Something definitely worth considering if you are an organization that has traditional managers and are wanting to take things to a different level. It’s also a fairly light read - something you can finish in a couple of hours.

Areas that resonated with me

  • Section on Managerial Selection Breaks When Organizations Grow
  • Todays’ work demands stable teams
  • Long Term Effects of Self-Selection (The happiness measure, how to leverage gaming metrics to your advantage - i.e. making stories smaller).

Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 978-1680501285

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