X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed. Deborah Ancona, Henrik Bresman. Harvard Business Review Press.

X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed Book Cover X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed
Deborah Ancona, Henrik Bresman
Harvard Business Review Press
June 26, 2007

You build a team around top-notch talent. The team members work well together, they’re committed to the mission and highly motivated to perform. Yet the results are disappointing. You’re not seeing creativity and flexibility. You’re not getting breakthrough ideas.

“Good” teams build camaraderie, confidence in their abilities, and a solid process for working together. But these internal dynamics – while positive in themselves – can create a wall between the team and the outside world. And that wall can prevent the team from adapting to change and delivering value to the organization.

In X-Teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate, and Succeed, Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman draw on years of research to show how traditional, inward -looking team models fall short in today’s business environment. What’s needed – and what works – is a new kind of team, the “X-team.” With their distinctively flexible membership and leadership structure, X-teams continuously reach outward to fuel the innovation process.

Citing detailed examples from Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, BP, Merrill Lynch, and many other companies, Ancona and Bresman show you how to build X-teams that:

  • Keep pace with shifts and markets, technologies, cultures, and your competition
  • Innovate by moving quickly from generating ideas to executing and diffusing them throughout your organization
  • Employee “distributed leadership” to unlock crucial information, expertise, and new ways of working together – wherever these qualities reside within or outside your company

In a world where at adaptability and creativity are paramount to an enterprise success – and even its survival – X-Teams is your handbook for constructing teams that maximize your company’s innovative capacity.

Deborah Ancona is the Seley Distinguished Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management. Henrik Bresman is Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD.