How to Find and Fix Team Problems
Robert W. Barner
Davies-Black Publishing, Palo Alto, Calif. Representation: Anita Halton Associates, (949) 494-8564, 326 pages, $32.95
Team building with a twist: While most books on the subject limit themselves to talk about getting a new team up and running or fixing a team after it breaks, Robert W. Barner deals with both and then goes a step farther. Team Troubleshooter promotes the concept of maintaining a healthy team through anticipating problems, performing regular team tune-ups and taking proactive measures to head off trouble before it begins. High points: strategies to foresee and develop plans for dealing with change, rather than becoming a victim of it; how-to tips to extend beyond the team itself to the problems of creating, maintaining and mending external relationships; ideas to cope with the fact that the team is not an isolated, independent entity, but is part of a bigger system and may be at the mercy of management and other forces.
The unusually user-friendly format makes the book truly serve as a guide. Useful organization, clear chapter headings and cross-referencing help the reader find information quickly. Barner also does more than just name problems and offer quick fixes—he helps to assure accurate problem diagnosis by clearly describing both symptoms and underlying causes. Dozens of new instruments—not just the same tired old quizzes that appear in so many other teamwork books—lead both team leaders and members (and trainers or consultants involved in the "team" business) through exercises. They include scripting out scenario forecasts, identifying early warning signs of trouble, performing stakeholder analyses, and mapping relationships. It's been a long time since anything new has been said about teams—Barner's book deserves a space on the shelf of anyone truly interested in making a team work.