Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of Team

I read The Five Dysfunctions of Team last week at the request of a friend from church in preparation for a meeting. It was a quick read and I finished it in the better part of a day (thanks to my ability to read while driving!) Patrick Lencioni is known for putting leadership and business principles in parable format. Hm, does that remind you of anyone?

In a nutshell, this is the story of Kathryn Peterson, a mid-career executive who takes the helm of a struggling software company. Having experience some rapid growth early on, as was the case with many of the Silicon Valley start-ups, Decision Tech finds itself unable to consistently reach sales and revenue goals and is thwarted in its hopes of going public. Enter Kathryn. For the first few weeks, it is business as usual, as she merely observes the company in action. Everything changes with her announcement of several off-site meetings for the executive team.

I was surprised to find myself entering into the emotional tension of this story as Kathryn faces conflict head on, and seeks to instill a true sense of teamwork among her direct reports. The story moved quickly through these critical dysfunctions that she identifies to her team via whiteboard and some team building exercises. The last chapter of the book steps away from the story and reflects on each of the dysfunctions and how they were addressed.

What surprised me is how I was able to see my own fear of conflict fleshed out in a story setting and how lack of trust has kept me from moving ahead in many areas of my life. I was challenged not to thwart in any way any team dynamics in which I play a role. I also realized how helpful it is to view my own marital relationship in a team setting. What is more important to me - my own personal security or the goals of the team? I would highly recommend this book to anyone on any kind of team, and hopefully that includes all of us!

P.S. I see the author has a new book out on the topic of family. I can't help but think I'll be reading more of this guy's work in months to come.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Word of the Week: Lockstep


  1. A way of marching in which the marchers follow each other as closely as possible.
  2. A standardized procedure that is closely, often mindlessly followed.
I know, it's been a while. I should explain that this is the word for THIS week, and that there may not be a word next week or the week after. But this week this unusual word jumped out at me several times and I just had to stop and think about it. The first usage was in the political sense, as in "I used to be a lockstep Republican" (quoting from the example I read). The second instance was in a corporate setting.

So I'm wondering, is being "in lockstep" ever a desirable quality? I suppose some would say that we want to be in lockstep with Christ. But even there, looking at the gospel stories, I can't  exactly see that's what Christ had in mind. I can picture him, trudging up the dusty road and turning to see his disciples marching in tightly ordered sync behind him. Perhaps he might say something like, "You guys are too close!" And then, relieved and free to be themselves, I see Andrew dallying behind to talk to a little boy about his lunch. I see Thomas scratching his head, a million miles away and deep in thought. I see Peter running ahead, forging out opportunities.

I desire to follow Christ as closely as possible. But I am also coming to learn that he longs for me to follow him as who he created me to be and who I am becoming. In becoming more fully who he intended me to be, am I not becoming more like him? I so long to break rank and move into the freedom that is already mine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Round on Both Ends

What's round on both ends and high in the middle? Ohio, of course! Ohio has become our favorite little getaway place over the past eight years. While many people head for Lancaster, PA or upstate New York or even New England at this time of year, Mike and I can be found sneaking off to eastern Ohio, a mere two hour drive.

We pass on the bed and breakfast spots, opting for the local Hampton Inn (our favorite), with it's inviting hot breakfasts and indoor pool and whirlpool. We rely heavily on the literature stocked in the hotel lobby and plan our course based on one of the local maps. With almost guilty pleasure, we traipse around the Amish countryside, putzing along behind horse drawn buggies and young'uns on bicycles, oblivious to the mileage we're racking up (I think we did an almost sixty mile loop yesterday). We love exploring places such as Roscoe Village and New Philadelphia and discovering little gems of restaurants tucked away off the beaten path. When in doubt, I agree with Rachel Ray: ask the locals!

I think what keeps me coming back here are the town scenes, with their white-sided houses neatly lined up behind sidewalks, shops you can walk to and folks out on the front porches being neighborly and all. Mike on the other hand always has his eyes open for good fishing spots (and good restaurants)! Between the two of us, we manage to get our money's worth out of a few days in a simple place. Our visits usually coincide with our anniversary and my birthday and so are an extra gift we give ourselves.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Too Good Not to Share

I've been enjoying some new music lately and it's just too good not to share. A true worship experience is how I'd describe Charlie Hall's new CD, The Bright Sadness. I'm the kind of person who likes the whole experience, so I've been blessed as I've read some of Charlie's thoughts behind the title of the CD, as well as the artwork. I get my money's worth out of a CD; I've had this for a little more than two weeks now and I'm still pretty much stuck on the first 2 songs. If you get a chance, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Oh and, on my way to work today I saw this great bumper sticker: Read Books, Not Bumper Stickers! Literally, I laughed out loud, knowing that for some people, bumper stickers may be the heaviest reading they do. Oh, what they're missing!

(So you're wondering . . . am I back? I'm not sure. This post just didn't fit the criteria I've set for myself on my other blog. But like I said, I couldn't keep it to myself any longer!