There are 21 key elements of great groups that I believe emerge from Bennis and Biederman’s analysis. I have listed them below. While the 21 elements aren’t that surprising, the book does make three surprising revelations about the elements. First, all of these 21 elements feature in all of the great groups. It would seem that you don’t get a great group unless all of these conditions are met, somehow. Second, these elements are not planned and implemented top down. They seem to evolve organically from the leadership. Third, the manifestation of these key elements is not slick, fair, institutionalized or particularly attractive taken out of context. Human Resources and Senior Management are not likely to cheerfully sign off on a strategy to create these conditions. Even if they do, you probably can’t implement these 21 elements top down and get a great group. That is the dilemma we are left with when we finish this book. We can see what a great group looks like but it is not certain that we can actually create one deliberately! That said, Organizing Genius is a great read, the stories are vibrant and detailed and it’s a pleasure getting a little glimpse of what it was like to work on the first personal computer, Snow White and the first U.S. jet fighter. While the stories can’t show you precisely how to create a great group, they will give you good idea of what a Great Group looks like and feels like and that is a big help!
Great Groups – Key Elements – A Checklist
- A clear, tangible outcome. The best outcomes are widely recognized as important or fantastic.
- An outrageous vision for the outcome.
- A leader who can get people to get personally committed to the vision and the outcome.
- Exceptionally capable people on the team – the best talent available.
- A leader that the team respects.
- A leader who gives the team members the information, recognition and latitude they need to deliver the outcome.
- A leader who keeps the team focused without micro managing it.
- A shabby workplace with access to all the equipment, materials, tools and training the team needs to deliver the outcome.
- Team is protected from bureaucracy of the sponsor/sponsor organization.
- The workplace enables collaboration.
- Team is insulated from distractions.
- There is one focus for the team – the outcome.
- Team members have responsibilities that are aligned to their expertise, interests, and capabilities.
- Team members are willing to work on what needs to be worked on when it needs to be worked on.
- People don’t always get along but everyone wants to achieve the outcome so this common desire transcends individual conflicts.