Review of The Wisdom of Teams

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9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Management consultants Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith state the facts: they know that everyone from top executives to employees down the ladder pays lip service to the concept of teams, but few people act like they truly value teams and fewer still actually know how teams really work. The authors identify the hype and what it hides. Then they go a step farther. They provide a manual for creating what executives say they want: high-performance teams. Katzenbach and Smith illustrate their suggestions, insights and guidelines with a lot of stories of real-world teams, focusing on what makes them work. Their rules are so clear that they leave little room for protecting any cherished illusions.

If you’re seriously interested in diagnosing underperforming teams and creating new ones that do perform, you’ll benefit from this book. And if you think you’re already doing everything right, but your team just isn’t producing, this book may burst your bubble. Given that, getAbstract suggests that those managers who are willing to act on the authors’ detailed, pragmatic counsel will get the most from it.

About the Authors

Jon R. Katzenbach is a senior partner with Booz & Company where he leads the innovation-oriented Katzenbach Center. He is also the author of The Myth of Top Management. Attorney, consultant, teacher, historian and inventor Douglas K. Smith has written five books including Make Success Measurable.


Managers generally believe they know what teams are and how they work. Most understand that their organizations’ need for good teams grow even more pressing in the face of change. However, managers often either don’t know what it takes to make a team function well, or they don’t apply what they already know in an effective way.

Business readers have made this now-standard manual a popular bestseller, probably due to the authors’ straightforward prose and actionable advice. Katzenbach and Smith build trust by never pushing or promoting their consultancies or past successes. They offer clear narratives of their mistakes to help make sure you won’t repeat them. Underlying every word is the authors’ heartfelt belief in how helpful high-performance teams can be. This makes their advocacy feel hard-earned, sincere and, at times, even inspirational.

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