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Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7093-2
352 pages
April 2012, Jossey-Bass
Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (078797093X) cover image
New breakthrough thinking in organizational learning, leadership, and change

Continuous improvement, understanding complex systems, and promoting innovation are all part of the landscape of learning challenges today's companies face. Amy Edmondson shows that organizations thrive, or fail to thrive, based on how well the small groups within those organizations work. In most organizations, the work that produces value for customers is carried out by teams, and increasingly, by flexible team-like entities. The pace of change and the fluidity of most work structures means that it's not really about creating effective teams anymore, but instead about leading effective teaming.

Teaming shows that organizations learn when the flexible, fluid collaborations they encompass are able to learn. The problem is teams, and other dynamic groups, don't learn naturally. Edmondson outlines the factors that prevent them from doing so, such as interpersonal fear, irrational beliefs about failure, groupthink, problematic power dynamics, and information hoarding. With Teaming, leaders can shape these factors by encouraging reflection, creating psychological safety, and overcoming defensive interpersonal dynamics that inhibit the sharing of ideas. Further, they can use practical management strategies to help organizations realize the benefits inherent in both success and failure.

  • Presents a clear explanation of practical management concepts for increasing learning capability for business results
  • Introduces a framework that clarifies how learning processes must be altered for different kinds of work
  • Explains how Collaborative Learning works, and gives tips for how to do it well
  • Includes case-study research on Intermountain healthcare, Prudential, GM, Toyota, IDEO, the IRS, and both Cincinnati and Minneapolis Children's Hospitals, among others

Based on years of research, this book shows how leaders can make organizational learning happen by building teams that learn.

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Foreword by Edgar H. Schein xi

Introduction 1

Part One Teaming

1 A New Way of Working 11

Teaming Is a Verb 12

Organizing to Execute 15

The Learning Imperative 19

Learning to Team, Teaming to Learn 24

Organizing to Learn 26

Execution-as-Learning 30

The Process Knowledge Spectrum 32

A New Way of Leading 38

Leadership Summary 42

Lessons and Actions 42

2 Teaming to Learn, Innovate, and Compete 45

The Teaming Process 50

Four Pillars of Effective Teaming 51

The Benefi ts of Teaming 56

Social and Cognitive Barriers to Teaming 60

When Conflict Heats Up 67

Leadership Actions That Promote Teaming 75

Leadership Summary 78

Lessons and Actions 79

Part Two Organizing To Learn

3 The Power of Framing 83

Cognitive Frames 84

Framing a Change Project 89

The Leader's Role 93

Team Members’ Roles 96

The Project Purpose 99

A Learning Frame Versus an Execution Frame 102

Changing Frames 104

Leadership Summary 111

Lessons and Actions 112

4 Making It Safe to Team 115

Trust and Respect 118

Psychological Safety for Teaming and Learning 125

The Effect of Hierarchy on Psychological Safety 131

Cultivating Psychological Safety 135

Leadership Summary 145

Lessons and Actions 146

5 Failing Better to Succeed Faster 149

The Inevitability of Failure 150

The Importance of Small Failures 151

Why It’s Diffi cult to Learn from Failure 154

Failure Across the Process Knowledge Spectrum 160

Matching Failure Cause and Context 164

Developing a Learning Approach to Failure 168

Strategies for Learning from Failures 170

Leadership Summary 182

Lessons and Actions 183

6 Teaming Across Boundaries 185

Teaming Despite Boundaries 191

Visible and Invisible Boundaries 193

Three Types of Boundaries 197

Teaming Across Common Boundaries 201

Leading Communication Across Boundaries 212

Leadership Summary 215

Lessons and Actions 216

Part Three Execution-as-learning

7 Putting Teaming and Learning to Work 221

Execution-as-Learning 222

Using the Process Knowledge Spectrum 229

Facing a Shifting Context at Telco 234

Learning That Never Ends 240

Keeping Learning Alive 252

Leadership Summary 254

Lessons and Actions 256

8 Leadership Makes It Happen 257

Leading Teaming in Routine Production at Simmons 258

Leading Teaming in Complex Operations at Children’s

Hospital 265

Leading Teaming for Innovation at IDEO 276

Leadership Summary 283

Moving Forward 285

Notes 289

Acknowledgments 309

About the Author 313

Index 315

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Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professorof Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, where she teaches coursesin leadership, organizational learning, andoperations management in the MBA andExecutive Education programs.

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