Katzenbach and Smith

Authors Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith have an interesting perspective on high performance teamsand have been in research since the early 90's (1993). There research involves what makes a successful team.The authors studied team work across several companies and base their findings on case studies spanning tough business environments and work challenges.

High performance teams have:

  • A deeper sense of purpose.
  • Relatively more ambitious performance goals compared to the average teams.
  • Better work approaches or complete approaches as the authors term it.
  • Mutual accountability; acknowledgement of their joint accountability towards a common purpose in addition to individual obligations to their specific roles.
  • Complementary skill set, and at times interchangeable skills.

The above points capture the qualities found in high performance teams and these qualities are indeed stronger extensions of the factors that are usually necessary and ideal for team work, some of which follow:

  • All teams need a sense of purpose and a clear cut mission.
  • All teams need the mission to be broken down into meaningful performance goals for each team member to pursue.
  • All teams need to develop certain work approaches, procedures and processes to ensure that they accomplish a task efficiently and effectively.
  • All teams have to support the common mission and take their individual responsibility seriously to do their part in accomplishing a task.
  • All teams need a mix of skills, experience and expertise, in order to meet the challenges of the team task


They believe that a team will become a real team when it reaches a certain purpose

'.... a small number of people with complementary sikills who are commtted to a common purpose, performance goals and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. '

There are certain types of groups that they identified one being the working group where they are placed together but don't produce any more work than they would individually.

The pseudo team is where the tem works together but actually perform at a poorer rate than they would on there own. This can be due to distraction from eachother or no shared values between the group of individuals.

Apotential team is given away in the name, they have the potential to do well and are trying but they lack in structure and clarity between the group. They lkack the direction in the tasks which restrict them from going forward.

Potential teams can be turned from potential to high performance teams with the clarity and direction, they need to be motivated

How this theory can be applied to the event is the potential of the team. We started as a group with the skills and the drive but we needed the clarity and the direction to drive us forward. We found this when choosing the event where we had a starting point. we could have been a pseudo which would have been counter-productive and not yave worked well as the gorup. Luckily we had the potental and had the chance to turn it into a high performance group.