Course: Managing Teams for Innovation and Success
When: June 5-10 (deadline: May 9)
Instructors: Margaret A. Neale (faculty director), Deborah H. Gruenfeld, Robert I. Sutton, and Gregory B. Northcraft
Class size: 35-50
Where: Stanford University
Mission: Giving you a blueprint for managing effective teams and for being a star team member.
Despite what your high school gym teacher taught you, there is an "I" in "team" . . . Only the self-aware can alter their behavior to avoid dysfunction . . . Cliques — long considered a cancer on team morale — can be useful in busting through impasses. This Stanford course is full of such unconventional wisdom intended to give you a greater understanding of group behavior. "The truth is, people don't think systematically about how to make a team function well," says course instructor Margaret A. Neale. "There's lots more to successful team performance than getting into a group and doing the work." Being an effective team member is good preparation for leading one, so there are plenty of clever exercises such as a videotaped murder-mystery game that reveals how much of a help or a hindrance you are when it comes to solving problems. Complicating matters, the course replicates everyone's complaints about decision making — not enough time, limited data, and rigid deadlines for results — in an effort to draw out group tendencies and set up lessons for better group management. New to this course is a half-day workshop at design firm Ideo on best practices in sustaining an innovative culture.
Student evaluation: Rob Lisanti, a business operations manager for Cisco Systems in Europe, took the course last summer to enhance his people skills in preparation for a new team he'd be leading. He'd previously been prone to hiring people like himself to make life easy. "I'm now aware of the danger [of recruiting one's own likeness], and expect the people who work with me to come prepared to challenge current thinking," he says.
Want to go? www.gsb.stanford.edu/exed/mtis
Can't go? Read Groups That Work (and Those That Don't) (Jossey-Bass, 1990), by J. Richard Hackman.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.