Book Review: The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, by John C. Maxwell

Though some of the examples are a bit dated (for example, any reader of this book ought to get a few chuckles out of the praise that its author, John Maxwell, gives to the crooks who ran Enron for their innovative thinking), this book ought to provide encouragement to a wide variety of readers so long as they are well-versed with business language and are at least moderately fond of sports examples. If you are a fan of Maxwell’s 21 Indisputable Laws of Leadership (which are briefly recapped in this book’s chapter on the Law of the Edge, then you will almost certainly enjoy this book.

This book is slightly over 250 pages (and is a pretty quick read), divided into the following seventeen chapters: the Law of Significance, the Law of the Big Picture, the Law of the Niche, the Law of Mount Everest, the Law of the Chain, the Law of the Catalyst, the Law of the Compass, the Law of the Bad Apple, the Law of Countability, the Law of the Price Tag, the Law of the Scoreboard, the Law of the Bench, the Law of Identity, the Law of Communication, the Law of the Edge, the Law of High Morale, and the Law of Dividends. Each of these laws is defined, using business jargon, and then examples are given from the business, sports, or military world.

A lot of the laws are interrelated. For example, several of the laws concern the importance of all members of the team (the Law of the Bad Apple, the Law of the Chain, and the Law of the Bench all end up preaching the point that any destructive member of the team will kill results for the whole team, that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, and that a great team has a great bench that allows its reserves to be almost as good as its starters). Another example is that the Law of the Price Tag and the Law of Dividends combine to show that for teams to succeed they have to be willing to pay the price–but that the rewards are far greater than the price. Additionally, the Law of Significance, the Law of the Big Picture, the Law of the Niche, the Law of the Compass, the Law of Identity, and the Law of the Scoreboard show that for teams to succeed they have to know who they are, where they fit, and how they are doing. This additionally requires communication and the ability to count on their teammates (two more laws).

In short, this book divides into 17 laws more complicated and deeper insights. The wise reader will not be bothered by the slight repetition and will be able to make the deeper connections the author (presumably) intends. Again, though, I feel at pains to point out that in order to appreciate this book (or most of the other books I have seen by this author), one needs to be well-versed with the language of business management. The author talks about a 360-degree analysis without any explanation, assuming that the author will be familiar with at least the basics of management metrics. If you are not, this book will likely only be useful as an introduction to the conceptual framework of teamwork theory, rather than as a specific guide to measurable improvement. This book is primarily aimed at managers and leaders with a firm grasp of business measurements (of a Total Quality Management flavor, from the looks of it), though it is useful also on a theoretical level as a series of easy-to-read case studies of profound leadership truths that all too many leaders ignore at their peril.

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About Nathan Albright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Book Review: The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork

    • Actually, the Legacy Institute has that version of the Bible, and it may be the subject of a future book review. It also may be the subject of a future blog entry with regards to Legacy Students, towards the end of the school year.

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