When Considering Teams…

            While not a fan of sport’s analogies, sports teams are unique microcosms for understanding specific principles. As another Olympic games launches, reviewing teams from a sports lens is timely. Building a successful team is hard work redefined. Yet, the Olympics in some cases have built a myth surrounding ‘Dream Teams’ as a method for short-circuiting the process as a costs cutting measure. While saving money is important, participating in the Olympics is a choice not a prerequisite or a mandatory exercise; thus, saving money on building a team, while calling the results a ‘dream’ is disingenuous at best; disingenuous for the players, the coaches, the country, and damaging to the overall team process.

            Many times as a child, lessons were delivered regarding hard work being its own reward; invest wisely with planning and forethought for time and money are precious, but time is more precious, and many other life navigating morals. These lessons formed the principles for thought taken into application from the theories of childhood. Yet, how often are these lessons forgotten for expediency in the short-term and re-work in the long-term. Final thoughts on teams revolve around basic principles, one, there are no shortcuts to great teams; two, there are no safe paths between starting and concluding a team.

            ‘No shortcuts,’ personified in Boynton and Fischer (2005) especially in the discussion on ‘West Side Story’ (Boynton & Fischer, 2005, p. 23-39). Skull sweat in the planning stages reduces actual sweat in the production stages, but does not eliminate the work required to bring dreams into reality. Also displayed, from Boynton and Fischer (2005), the reward for applying the principles correctly. Shortcutter’s or the people who constantly look for ‘easy roads, are scared of effort, do not want to invest time and energy in work, and settle for less than good until anything goes. When effort is concentrated, applied, focused, and honed, great things follow.

            ‘No safe paths’ is a simple way of expressing the need for principled conflict, embracing opposition as a friend, and understanding that when people possess the freedom to choose, people will choose unwisely. Boynton and Fischer (2005) do not list how many people gave up on a momentous opportunity to be in ‘West Side Story.’ Collins (2001) does not include a list of employees unwilling to change that were let go in the organizations engaged in making the leap from ‘Good to Great.’ Lencioni (2002) provides only the barest of bare bones run down of team problems stemming from people choosing their paths. Yet, all three of these examples highlight the truth that there are no safe paths, silver bullets, or easy fixes to organizational teams. Like actual dreams, ‘Dream Teams’ are a myth, a manufactured story; fake, delusional, inappropriate, and unworthy of the moniker ‘Team.’


Boynton, A., & Fisher, B. (2005). Virtuoso teams: Lessons from teams that changed their worlds. FT Press 

Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons.


© 2014 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved



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Dual service military veteran. Possess an MBA in Global Management and a Masters degree in Adult Education and Training. Pursuing a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Business professional with depth of experience in logistics, supply chain management, and call centers.

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