I am often asked for recommendations for books about teams and understanding how creative collaboration works. Here’s a list of some of my favorites. These are based on research or extensive practice and I have found them insightful and helpful for both me and clients.

The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith

This is a classic book about teams. Their distinction between high-performing teams, pseudo teams, and working groups was enlightening for me.

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The Artist's Way Book

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

I call this book an airplane book because it’s simple, short, well written and perfect for reading on a flight. Lencioni presents a model explaining 5 elements successful teams need: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. I have found that when I present the model to teams it helps them understand what they need to work on as a team and motivates them as well. I highly recommend it if you want to better understand what teams need to work well together.

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The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

This book arose from a research study that started, in part, by asking how positive and negative work environments affect creative problem solving. The results were somewhat surprising. What they found was, “people are more creative and productive when they are deeply engaged in the work, when they feel happy, and when they think highly of their projects, coworkers, managers, and organizations.” Additionally, they found that when people and teams are making progress towards a goal, it motivates them to keep working towards that goal. The book is well-written and offers examples and stories from their research. Most leaders don’t truly understand motivation and what drives a team’s success. This book explains so much and can help your team perform at a higher level.

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Group Genius by Keith Sawyer

The amount of money organizations spend on research and development does not affect their innovation. Instead, it’s the performance of their teams. Performance is related to group flow. Sawyer explains the 10 conditions for group flow and how teams can reach the level of collaboration needed for innovation. Sawyer compiles the research on creative collaboration and sheds lights on some myths of team creativity.

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There are dozens of excellent books on teams. Of course, there are also an equal number of really bad ones. The cool thing is that in the last decade the research on creative collaboration in teams has increased exponentially. We have a much better understanding of what really helps team creativity. These books shed some light on the nuances of teams and collaboration.
Happy reading!

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