Smart Things to Know about Teams
Author: Annemarie Caracciola
Buy this book from the TrainingZONE – Blackwells bookshop.
So much has been written and produced on the topic of teams, training them, developing them, working in them, leading them, it is difficult to find anything new to add.
And this book does not.
The Smart series uses a house style for its publications. The aim, according to the introduction written by David Frith, the ‘smartmaster’ (sic – or maybe that should be ‘sick’!)is to increase the reader’s self awareness “by developing your understanding attitudes and behaviour and by giving you the tools to challenge the status quo in your organisation”.
So what’s new? Most management books would say the same. In fact Ms Caracciola has borrowed liberally from almost every guru on the wide subject of teams but I could find very little original thought in the content. The format is original if you had not met the Smart stuff elsewhere. To be honest I found it irritating. There are ‘Smart’ quotes usually only attributed to an author without full references or acknowledgement (no bibliography)There are ‘smart’ things to know, ‘smart’ people to refer to (where ? -see above) and ‘killer questions’. These latter came over to me as pedestrian. For example, “is it true that we can devolve authority but not responsibility?” Interesting lead in to a discussion but it is not followed up. These ‘smart’ bits are dressed up in cutesy guises- as a clipboard or a dartboard- but that does not disguise their essentially mundane quality.
All in all it seemed to me that the author swallowed or had had injected a whole slew of expert advice on the subject. Maslow, Kolb, Myers-Briggs, Belbin –you will find them all here compressed into handy and concise notes. You may find that useful when trying to remember which said which. Similarly there is a quick scoop around NLP. The author has attempted to fit them all into the ‘smart’ formula but without revealing her own stance or recommendations.
To my mind Virginia Satir is one of the best and clearest of teachers of communication (not quoted in the chapter of that name in this book!). She emphasises the importance of being ‘congruent’in good communication. I understand that: to say what you believe and to believe what you say. Somehow this author gives the impression of having skimmed the surface of cups and cups of great material and given us only the skin. I hate boiled milk!