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

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John Wiley & Sons, Mar 20, 2012 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
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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Cultivating Psychological Safety
Leadership Summary
The Inevitability of Failure
The Importance of Small Failures
Why Its Difficult to Learn from Failure
Failure Across the Process Knowledge Spectrum
Matching Failure Cause and Context

The Process Knowledge Spectrum
A New Way of Leading
Leadership Summary
The Teaming Process
Four Pillars of Effective Teaming
The Benefits of Teaming
Social and Cognitive Barriers to Teaming
When Conflict Heats Up
Leadership Actions That Promote Teaming
Leadership Summary
Cognitive Frames
Framing A Change Project
The Leaders Role
Team Members Roles
The Project Purpose
A Learning Frame Versus an Execution Frame
Changing Frames
Leadership Summary
Trust and Respect
Psychological Safety for Teaming and Learning
The Effect of Hierarchy on Psychological Safety
Developing a Learning Approach to Failure
Strategies for Learning from Failures
Leadership Summary
Teaming Despite Boundaries
Visible and Invisible Boundaries
Three Types of Boundaries
Teaming Across Common Boundaries
Leading Communication Across Boundaries
Leadership Summary
Using the Process Knowledge Spectrum
Facing a Shifting Context at Telco
Learning That Never Ends
Keeping Learning Alive
Leadership Summary
Leading Teaming in Routine Production at Simmons
Leading Teaming in Complex Operations at Childrens Hospital
Leading Teaming for Innovation at IDEO
Leadership Summary
Moving Forward

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About the author (2012)

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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