The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni (2002) is the author of a useful book and theory about why teams fail. It is called the Five Dysfunctions of a Team and here’s a summary…

1. Absence of Trust

Absence of trust includes being unwilling to be vulnerable within a group. This can manifest itself with many side affects such as stonewalling and contempt.

2. Fear of Conflict

Fear of Conflict includes seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate. This can manifest itself obviously as stonewalling, or more subtly as placation or agreement between team members when in fact they disagree but are either unwilling or incapable of expression.

3. Lack of Commitment

Lack of Commitment as with Fear of Conflict can manifest itself obviously or subtly. An obvious lack of commitment is normally easy to spot – e.g. people not turning up to meetings etc.

A more subtle form of lack of commitment exists where team members might “fake” being committed but fail to complete their work to a satisfactory level of quality or in a reasonable time – because they feel uncommitted to the team / project / organisation etc.

4. Avoidance of Accountability

Avoidance of Accountability is generally easy to observe – either in individuals or at the team level. When people or teams avoid responsibility it can result in counterproductive behaviour – for example doing minimal work or setting standards which are very low.

5. Inattention to Results

Inattention to Results can often manifest itself during integration or testing towards the ends of projects and can be very expensive to an organisation.

Typically inattention to detail occurs when team members are focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success. Of course, ego is a difficult trait to deal with can can break teams.

Got a Question? Ask Agile Unpacked…