Our team was asked to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and we are working on breaking those to improve our teamwork and encourage the associated functions.

These are the five dysfunctions, whereas the importance increases from top to bottom:

Pyramid view of the five dysfunctions

There are many informative and interesting articles about this topic available, most of which showing the dysfunctions as a pyramid and describing the problem - but don't offer possible solutions apart from reasonable advises.

We now started having regular common breakfasts, had our personalities analyzed, talked a lot about ourselves privately, and attended a team event in which we collectively disarmed a (toy) bomb. Those activities helped increase the overall trust, reduced the fear of conflicts and were all fun.

Now we're struggling to find any activities which could be help reducing the other dysfunctions by making us aware of the root causes, e.g. lack of commitment. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!


We're going to go to an improvisation theatre workshop.

  • 4
    Didn't he book give suggestions? didn't the person that suggested the book have other insights? Usually a group has a mentor of sorts to help them improve. Aug 27, 2019 at 10:29
  • The book describes what is necessary to team up. For example, absense of trust clearly needs building trust, or fear of conflict can be handled by openly speaking. But we are looking for activities, which train us to be more sensitive to these dysfunctions and reflect on them on our own. Having a mentor would just introduce a new role into the team and could be the counterpart of what we want to achieve. Aug 27, 2019 at 10:32
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    Psychological safety (trust) and accountability are deeply intrinsic to a group. These properties can't be created by simple exercises or activities which are formulated to provide a microcosm of the real world (eg toy-bomb diffusing). To be meaningful, these things need to exist and function in the real world in real projects that have real consequences. It's nice that your org is pursuing this, but you don't have to "search" for activities. The activities are already in front of you: your jobs!
    – teego1967
    Aug 27, 2019 at 11:02
  • 1
    @teego1967: This should be an answer. Aug 27, 2019 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Short, office-removed activities will most likely not create meaningful culture change when your team comes across a difficult project or a 'fire'. It is cool your team is going to these steps to build cohesion, regardless, and I don't doubt it is making your team more comfortable with each other.

The important thing with these aspects, like "trust" is that your team has to trust each other in the sense that you are all working towards a common goal. Your team is trusting enough with each other on a professional level that they are comfortable saying "I don't know", or "I don't think that is the best solution" without fear of being reprimanded by a higher up or a head-strong co-worker. Trust is embodied when people feel like they can hash out disagreements over solutions to a problem without individual egos getting in the way. The toy bomb thing is cool, I wouldn't mind if our team did that purely for fun. But I am skeptical that will carry over when your company comes across an extremely difficult client (or whatever the equivalent is in your industry), your team will be too caught up in the moment to remember that time when they all had a good time with that toy bomb.

Our team once tried to sit in a circle and share 'a past hardship' to build trust. While it certainly made everyone on the team more aware of peoples' feelings, I would argue it did little, if anything, to directly affect communication over solving business problems.

The comment by teego1967 is very apt, your activity is every opportunity that arises in your workplace. You can not do an activity outside of work once, twice, or even 100 times and say "we trust each other in the workplace during times of difficult decision making" and be true to the teachings in Lencioni's books. It is a continuous growth kind of thing that everyone needs to be always striving for.

For "Commitment", next time there is a meeting, make sure everyone knows exactly what the game plan is, and who is doing what, when they should have their portion done or when you will reconvene to pull everything together. They should be committed to that task, and others in the company will hold them "Accountable" by following up on their task results.

If people are walking away from your meetings 'not sure' what they are supposed to do because the meeting ended on an airy note of "okay so that wraps up this meeting, everyone should have figured out how they can contribute to the problem by the content of the meeting", then how can they commit to anything with a level of confidence that the entire team is on the same page as them, and how can anyone hold someone accountable if no one knows what anyone committed to?

Try to find ways to actively encourage change within the office on day to day tasks and exchanges. Nothing is going to directly affect office interaction more than continuous effort within the office - outside activities will always have some disconnect to the office environment.

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    that was a very great first post. Thanks! Aug 27, 2019 at 15:38
  • Thanks, I am glad you found something helpful in my response. Our company reads PL's books too, so I was really intrigued when I saw your question; I spend a lot of time thinking about the content in those books, both for my professional and social life... I was a little concerned my response would come off as a bunch of platitudes.
    – Paniom
    Aug 27, 2019 at 15:48

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