Chapter 5

The Spectator Team

I sat quietly in the boardroom, my chair pushed up against the wall so I could watch without interfering with the action. The team took their seats around the table. I'd started working with this team about eight months before. At that time, their biggest issue was that they had no confidence in one another. They routinely invaded one another's territory because they didn't believe their colleagues could handle the work.

It took several months, but they turned the team around. They learned to listen without jumping to conclusions. They even made rules for how they would fight with one another so they'd be comfortable with healthy debate. The tone of their discussions improved. The team was enjoying the feeling of being successful again.

This was my first time observing them in a regular team meeting. They started right on time. Everybody had a role: a timekeeper, a note taker, and the team leader, who as the meeting chair was keeping everything neat and tidy. They raised the first item of business, the project owner presented it to the team, everyone nodded, and the matter was closed. It didn't even take five minutes.

This pattern continued, with the team leader periodically glancing over at me as if to say “See, look how well we're doing!” Each time, the person presenting would pass out some material and speak for 5 or 10 minutes to review the highlights of the information. The team leader would then ask a few questions, which the presenter would ...

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