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Team Genius
Cover of Team Genius
Team Genius
The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
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A groundbreaking book that sheds new light on the vital importance of teams as the fundamental unit of organization and competition in the global economy.

Teams—we depend on them for both our professional success and our personal happiness. But isn't it odd how little scrutiny we give them? The teams that make up our lives are created mostly by luck, happenstance, or circumstance—but rarely by design. In trivial matters—say, a bowling team, the leadership of a neighborhood group, or a holiday party committee—success by serendipity is already risky enough. But when it comes to actions by fast-moving start-ups, major corporations, nonprofit institutions, and governments, leaving things to chance can be downright dangerous.

Offering vivid reports of the latest scientific research, compelling case studies, and great storytelling, Team Genius shows managers and executives that the planning, design, and management of great teams no longer have to be a black art. It explores solutions to essential questions that could spell the difference between success and obsolescence. Do you know how to reorganize your subpar teams to turn them into top performers? Can you identify which of the top-performing teams in your company are reaching the end of their life span? Do you have the courage to shut them down? Do you know how to create a replacement team that will be just as effective—without losing time or damaging morale? And, most important, are your teams the right size for the job?

Throughout, Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone share insights and real-life examples gleaned from their careers as journalists, analysts, investors, and globetrotting entrepreneurs, meeting successful teams and team leaders to reveal some "new truths":

  • The right team size is usually one fewer person than what managers think they need.
  • The greatest question facing good teams is not how to succeed, but how to die.
  • Good "chemistry" often makes for the least effective teams.
  • Cognitive diversity yields the highest performance gains—but only if you understand what it is.
  • How to find the "bliss point" in team intimacy—and become three times more productive.
  • How to identify destructive team members before they do harm.
  • Why small teams are 40 percent more likely to create a successful breakthrough than a solo genius is.
  • Why groups of 7 (± 2), 150, and 1,500 are magic sizes for teams.
  • Eye-opening, grounded, and essential, Team Genius is the next big idea to revolutionize business.

    A groundbreaking book that sheds new light on the vital importance of teams as the fundamental unit of organization and competition in the global economy.

    Teams—we depend on them for both our professional success and our personal happiness. But isn't it odd how little scrutiny we give them? The teams that make up our lives are created mostly by luck, happenstance, or circumstance—but rarely by design. In trivial matters—say, a bowling team, the leadership of a neighborhood group, or a holiday party committee—success by serendipity is already risky enough. But when it comes to actions by fast-moving start-ups, major corporations, nonprofit institutions, and governments, leaving things to chance can be downright dangerous.

    Offering vivid reports of the latest scientific research, compelling case studies, and great storytelling, Team Genius shows managers and executives that the planning, design, and management of great teams no longer have to be a black art. It explores solutions to essential questions that could spell the difference between success and obsolescence. Do you know how to reorganize your subpar teams to turn them into top performers? Can you identify which of the top-performing teams in your company are reaching the end of their life span? Do you have the courage to shut them down? Do you know how to create a replacement team that will be just as effective—without losing time or damaging morale? And, most important, are your teams the right size for the job?

    Throughout, Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone share insights and real-life examples gleaned from their careers as journalists, analysts, investors, and globetrotting entrepreneurs, meeting successful teams and team leaders to reveal some "new truths":

  • The right team size is usually one fewer person than what managers think they need.
  • The greatest question facing good teams is not how to succeed, but how to die.
  • Good "chemistry" often makes for the least effective teams.
  • Cognitive diversity yields the highest performance gains—but only if you understand what it is.
  • How to find the "bliss point" in team intimacy—and become three times more productive.
  • How to identify destructive team members before they do harm.
  • Why small teams are 40 percent more likely to create a successful breakthrough than a solo genius is.
  • Why groups of 7 (± 2), 150, and 1,500 are magic sizes for teams.
  • Eye-opening, grounded, and essential, Team Genius is the next big idea to revolutionize business.

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    About the Author-
    • Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes magazine, where he writes a featured column, Innovation Rules, covering business and leadership issues. An accomplished entrepreneur as well as a journalist and speaker, he is a cofounder of Upside magazine, Garage Technology Partners, and Silicon Valley's premier public business forum, the 7,500-member Churchill Club. He is also the author of Life 2.0 and The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success. He lives with his family in Silicon Valley.

    Reviews-
    • Kirkus

      May 1, 2015
      An exploration of the importance of teams in human activity. Drawing from a broadly based foundation in multiple branches of scientific and academic research, as well as technology and business studies, Forbes magazine publisher Karlgaard (The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, 2014, etc.) and technology writer Malone (The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company, 2014, etc.) assemble their case for the imperative of cooperative teamwork. Along the way, they debunk traditional ideas of business success as attributable to either of "two antipodes," the "lone hero and the giant enterprise." The authors focus on teams and the way technological networking effects compound the continual cheapening of overall cost. In the digital world, people are the limiting boundary to an organization's ability to adapt to change. Karlgaard and Malone draw from anthropology, ethnography, history, psychology, and evolutionary microbiology to show that, rather than competition, "cooperation may be the default tendency in human beings." They present research supporting the notion that the evolutionary requirements for clustering demand coordination, communication, and achievement of an optimal size. Teams, they suggest, consistently outperform, and are more likely to come up with new ideas, solitary inventors. Within teams, bringing together people with different perspectives, skills, and experience will tend to improve the performance of the team. As the authors note, "diverse teams need to be actively managed," and they consider how large-scale enterprises are actually hierarchies of teams. The key to their success often lies in finding the appropriate size, whether pairs, trios, or larger clusters. "The teams in which we work, and the teams we lead, may not change the world," write the authors. "But they can...make our company...more successful and secure, and give ourselves and our teammates a more rewarding and fulfilling career." An intriguing counter to the excesses of both individualism and organizations.

      COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    • Library Journal

      June 1, 2015

      Karlgaard (publisher, Forbes magazine; Life 2.0) and technology author Malone (Bill & Dave) could be a top-flight writing duo. Their research-based fundamentals on team management, historical examples, and personal narratives are sound. The value of teams is a given; however, neither the explication of anthropological, social, and biological bases of teams, from mating pairs to legendary musicians, sports stars, and military commanders, nor the extensive taxonomy of team types will be as useful for would-be managers of high-performance groups as practical advice would have been. Leaders need concrete suggestions of how to create the ideal team for a given task from the ranks of available employees. VERDICT Gems of insight and wisdom are offered here, such as the need for balance between creative and analytical skills to maintain a team's forward momentum, but not all readers will persevere to find and employ them. For fans of business history and theory.--Elizabeth Wood, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

      Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

    • Booklist

      June 1, 2015
      Karlgaard and Malonejournalists, analysts, and private investorsexplore the topic of teams, using cutting-edge scientific research, interviews worldwide with successful team leaders and teams, and case studies. The authors explain how to staff and manage for diversity and to consider team size ( groups of 7 plus or minus 2, 150, and 1,500 are magic sizes for teams ); also, teams of two people produce many of the most successful results. Karlgaard and Malone present 20 questions we should be answering about the teams we manage and those to which we belong, including: Is our organization (major corporations, nonprofits, and government) and its teams capable of meeting the challenges of a highly competitive global economy (a tech-driven, rapidly changing global marketplace with two billion more people entering the workforce)? Can we find the right team at the right moment, and then act quickly when one team needs to be dissolved and replaced with a very different one? This book offers valuable insights for twenty-first-century management.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

    • FREDERICK W. SMITH, founder, and chief executive officer, FedEx Corporation "With 300,000 team members around the world, thousands of trucks, and hundreds of aircraft, FedEx delivers more than 2 billion packages a year. We can only do this with exceptional teams of people. Team Genius advances our thinking on what makes highly effective and maneuverable teams."
    • SATYA NADELLA, chief executive officer, Microsoft "Companies thrive when employees are empowered to do their best work every day. Inclusive teams that value diverse perspectives and have passion for new ideas encourage continuous learning. Team Genius offers a practical approach to fostering top-performing teams."
    • ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, founder of Huffington Post Media and author of Thrive "Team Genius explores a question key for any organization: What causes teams to succeed or fail? Karlgaard and Malone look at how leaders can create conditions for success by embracing differences within teams, bringing out the best in people, and understanding that we are hardwired to collaborate."
    • PETER H. DIAMANDIS, MD, chairman and chief executive officer, X PRIZE; executive chairman, Singularity University; New York Times bestselling author of Abundance and Bold "Today's exponential entrepreneur-anyone interested in going big, creating wealth, and impacting the world-must leverage the world's talent. Team Genius shows how."
    • Steve Forbes, Forbes "Persuasive and crucial...Team Genius, a splendid example of team achievement, lays out what you need to know about a subject that's becoming more important than ever to an organization's success."
    • 800-CEO-Read "What topic is this dream team of writers bringing us? The very nature and architecture of dream teams-how to think about them, staff and support them, and when to dismantle them and build anew."
    • Success magazine "In Team Genius, [Karlgaard and Malone] explore the numbers game and explain the surprising correlations between success and team size."
    • Financial Times "a useful overview of the science of teams...."
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    The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
    Rich Karlgaard
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