Today I got up early to participate in the First Friday Book Synopsis meeting which always promises to be a great way to spend the breakfast hour on the first Friday of each month. Randy Mayeux and Karl Krayer over the past 19 years have perfected the fine art of condensing a current business book into a fifteen minute presentation complete with a comprehensive handout of quotes and related information. Their offer is to give you enough information that you can fool most people into believing you have read each book.
Today’s books were, as usual, exceptional: “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni and “TED Talks” by Chris Anderson.
I became a fan of Lencioni when I read his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” during the formation years of Teamwork Dynamics. I had become convinced there was a framework of critical success factors that a team leader could focus on to build a team that succeeded in meeting the expectations of its stakeholders.
Over several months I constructed a model of these critical success factors. This framework became a tool I used in working with client team leaders seeking to create a dynamic and successful team. When I read the “Five Dysfunctions” book I was amazed at how closely the critical success factors I had identified lined up with Patrick’s five dysfunctions.
In the back of his book was the phone number of his office so I gave him a call forgetting that it was 8:30am central time while his office was on California time. But amazingly Patrick answered the phone and we had a great conversation about our two views of teamwork which we learned complimented each other. Over the next few years Patrick and I had several other encounters as he frequented the Dallas area to work with several of his clients.
For more than thirty years I have been mentoring MBA candidates through the Associate Board at SMU’s Cox School of Business. It has been rewarding and has helped me develop a wide range of friends and business associates both among the students who have become successful business leaders and my fellow mentors.
A number of years ago I was asked to develop and present a course on leading dynamic teams for the Professional MBA program at SMU. I selected Patrick’s “Five Dysfunctions” book as one of the required readings and developed a set of team exercises for each of the eight teams in the class to work their way through as the sessions of the course unfolded.
Each six person team was charged with finding an example of each of the five dysfunctions and preparing a board room presentation that described each dysfunction along with their recommendations to address the dysfunction.
As each of the teams developed and executed their approach to the exercise, several interesting things happened. Teams ran into difficulties as they struggled to find examples from their worlds. And the pressure built as the crowning event of the course approached during which each team would present the examples they found and their solutions.
And I applied a bit more pressure when I announced that the presentations would be made before a panel of business executives who would score and rank the presentations to help me assign team and individual grades for the course.
It should be noted that I discovered not one team had identified the dysfunctions that were surfacing in their own teams, and there were many.
As we neared that session where the teams would make their presentations, I learned Patrick was scheduled to visit one of his clients in Dallas on the week that the presentatons would be made by the teams. I reached out to Patrick and made him an offer he just could not refuse: Come to SMU and hear how nearly fifty MBA’s were solving forty example of dysfunctions in teams.
The presentations went well. There were clearly some teams who had overcome their own dysfunctions while it was apparent that others were struggling. In the following session with the class we reviewed each team’s performance. There were many “ah-ha’s” as each team discovered how the exercise brought out their own ability to identify their team’s dysfunctions. And it became clear how this impacted the quality of their presentation.
Now back to this morning.
At end of each monthly meeting of the First Friday Book Synopsis Randy and Karl hold a drawing from the attendees’ business cards to give away a copy of each of the books they have just presented. The owner of the first card selected picks which of the two books they will take. The second card drawn gets the other book.
Today there was a special addition. Each of the books was signed by the author.
It was very special for me to be selected second and be presented with “The Ideal Team Player” signed by Patrick Lencioni.
And the icing on the cake this morning was the fifteen minute conversation I had with Jim Young following the meeting. Jim is a former EDS executive, fellow Associate Board member and the person who introduced me to the First Friday Book Synopsis nearly 18 years ago. Jim also reminded me that he was one of the executives on the panel with Patrick at SMU so many years ago.
Thank you Randy and Karl for all you do and the impact you make on the lives of so many through your dedication to helping all of us expand our worlds. And thank you Jim and Carol Young for inviting me to join you on a Friday morning so many years ago to hear two guys talk about a couple of books. You have indeed expanded my mind, my book shelves and my tablet with the creations of so many great authors and the ideas upon which I have built many of my beliefs and services to others.