The book X-Teams: How To Build Teams That Lead, Innovate, and Succeed written by Henrik Bresman, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, and Deborah Ancona, Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management, will provide you research-based answer on the heartbreaking question: why good teams fail. The book’s authors show that traditional team models are falling short when it comes to innovation. It is not because of lack of talent, skills, or not working together, but the reason is that good teams don’t take into account external stakeholders and conditions.
How can we solve this problem?
Transforming the team into an X-team.
Table of Contents
Over the years, organizational life has changed into a fierce, fast, and innovation-based structure that now is spread out the system frames with many alliances rather than centralized hierarchies. These changes have made a deep impact on the team’s structure, and because of these changes, the traditional team modules don’t work anymore.
X-teams introduces a new team model that is externally-focused, and it’s known as X-team. This team balances the internal activities with an equal commitment to external activities. The main difference between traditional and -teams is that the X-team goes outside from day one and continues to do so throughout the project’s lifecycle. In fact, the x-team will reach a balance when the external mindset will be always present even when they’ve shifted to internal activity. To sum, the team needs to set up an external mindset in order to achieve balance.
Being externally focused, X-teams are able to identify emerging needs and opportunities to adopt quick changes. They are also better at building strong connections to management and to other groups within their company to ensure that the work done is always seen as valuable and supportive. X-teams are far less likely to make classic mistakes because their attention is turned to external stakeholders and conditions.
Finally, the X-team improves the organization’s ability to produce creative ideas and execute them. Overall, these teams can increase innovative capacity not only within the organization but also outside the organization.
"Good teams often fail because they don’t work consistently and effectively outside their own boundaries." - Henrik Bresman
In order to build an effective X-team that will be able to jump into the external activities, you will need to structure the team to engage in four core steps:
Step 1: Select members and set the stage.
When selecting the team members, the team leaders should focus not only on the necessary skills and talents but also on the social networks or ties of the potential members. In fact, team members are chosen for who they know. Once the team members are introduced among themselves the initial period is reserved for getting to know one another and to create a culture of psychological safety and team reflection.
Step 2: Begin exploration.
During this time, the team members explore their task, the environment, the customer, the technology, and the completion. The team needs to suspend their prior views and look at the world with new eyes. Exploration leads to discovery, to new understandings which will produce new action later in the project distribution line.
Step 3: Engage in exploitation.
This is the step when the team selects one direction of the possibilities and works on making it happen. Now members shift from the brainstorming sessions and possibilities on what can be done to actually doing it. They refocus their activities into a phase of implementation and execution.
Step 4: Follow through with exportation.
This is the last stage when the team exports the project to the rest of the organization. The main goal of exportation is to transfer the excitement, movement, and tacit knowledge of the team to the people who will take on the next phase.
The book X-teams is designed for managers at all levels in organizations of all sizes. From senior executives to all team members that want to get the job done successfully. This book is designed to provide answers to the following six questions:
- How can firms transition safely from decentralized structures to become more innovative?
- How can firms move leadership to lower levels inside their structure?
- How can we encourage people that are overwhelmed with daily work tasks to focus on new directions for the future?
- How to unleash the creativity of people who want to make a difference?
- How to link top-level strategy with new initiatives below?
- How to improve teams’ performance and satisfaction?
The main purpose of X-teams is to provide a valuable resource to academics, consultants, and anyone who wants to understand the challenges of managing teams in a new organizational environment. Moreover, the pure intention of this book is to shift people’s ideas into making the team more effective and help them to create innovation and change in their organization. Plus, it may provide a framework that will reshape some of the fundamental assumptions that permeate the world of research and practice.
This book can help you understand how to implement new models that will produce successful projects. It will also help you build an X-team that will lead, innovate and succeed. To buy, download, or read more reviews about X-Teams check out this link.
And if you have any questions, or options about this book, feel free to post them in the comments section at the end.
Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and faculty director of the MIT Leadership Center. She has consulted on leadership and innovation to premier companies such as AT&T, BP, CVRD, Merrill Lynch, and Newscorp.
Henrik Bresman is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, where he teaches MBA and executive courses in organizational leadership, technology innovation, and change management. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a degree in Economics (MSc) from the Stockholm School of Economics.
This book review was written by Lidija Magdeska