Can Yildirim's Blog

Book Notes: The five dysfunctions of a team

February 09, 2020

I was suggested this book way back and finally have had the opportunity to list it from Audible. I must say that this is not a book review and it doesn’t really cover the book. it is just some points that I found important and wanted to keep it here.

The book mentions about a CEO that has been brought to the charge of a company. And identifies the dysfunctions of the team. The way the book gives an example from the case makes them quite understandable.

While Kathryn (The CEO) identifies the dysfunctions, she comes up with a pyramid.


Remember that every step of the triangle depends on the one below.

1. Absence of trust

Trust is an important word as much as it is widely used. I genuinely believe the team needs to trust one another. I mean, it is more like to be confident that every team member wants the product to be successful. Knowing that your team member doesn’t have any priority but the team to be successful is a quite nice feeling. However, it is not something that can be achieved overnight.

2. Fear of conflict

I gave some thought about this after reading the chapter and I feel like there is a couple of reason of fear of conflict. One could be because of lack of knowledge. It could be about the profession or domain of the product. And not all people comfortable about exposing this lack of knowledge which I believe it is totally ok to not knowing all of the things that you work on. I know that even some people make fun of that (And I also know that those people definitely doing this because they are trying to hide their ignorance too). The other one could be lack of trust that nobody really wants to get affected badly out of the discussion as they don’t want to leave the comfort zone.

3. Lack of commitment

Commitment is possible in an environment that you trust and feel secure. As long as you feel confident that the team you work with it makes it quite easy. However, feeling secure doesn’t seem enough. The goal of the project at a different level should be digested by the team members. The team doesn’t have to totally agree with the decision or goal. Well… they shouldn’t totally disagree to. Being aware of X decision is better than no decision and believing some part of the decision should be enough for commitment. “Disagree and commit” should be a culture for a team as not all the team can agree with them all.

4. Avoidance of accountability

Accountability quite important matter when it comes to learning from the mistakes and being responsible for the outcomes. Team members usually hesitate to keep one another accountable as they don’t want to give harm the personal relationships. I believe that totally depends on how trust is built between team members. If you believe your team member cares about you and the work that team does that is to have negative feedback. However, the way delivering is not easy for most of the people.

5. Inattention to results

In software, every work we do, we monitor and measure team and take action according to result. A/B Testing, Software Testing, Code Review, Performance tools and Marketing Reports all of them has some output and we decide our next step by justifying that output. However, we should be open to discuss and accept the feedback about the way we use these and the way we get the job done. Retro Meetings in agile software development could be a great opportunity for that.

Book : The five Dysfunction of a team

Can Yildirim

Written by Can Yildirim who lives in London. Full Stack Software Engineer. Follow me on Twitter Linkedin

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