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Orchestrating Team Stengths – review

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Title: Orchestrating Team Strengths
Author: Jane Allan
Publisher: Gower August 2001
ISBN: 566 08379 5
Price: £255.85
A4 file, 240 pages
ISBN: 0566083795

Buy this book from the TrainingZONE - Blackwells bookshop.


This resource is, like most of Gower’s training materials well laid out, and is in a loose leaf A4 format designed to be photocopied and used by trainers.

Call me a nitpicking academic, but I was a bit surprised to find the only references to be to other training resources in other Gower publications.
This seems particularly important when the first page starts
“Let’s look at the ten roles we can perform in a team”, when the work of the team work guru Meredith Belbin lists eight team roles, plus the work of the Specialist, making nine roles in all. (M. Belbin Management Teams - Why they succeed or fail).

Allan’s 10 roles are Starter, Enthuser, Creator, Thinker, Fixer, Harmoniser, Questioner, and Finisher. These eight roles are progressive around the rim of a circle, with Networker in the center, and Leader looking on from outside. It is not hard to see where they equate to the roles studied by Belbin.

When I overcome my desire to quibble with the Team Building model introduced by Allan I found the resource useful.

The folder is split into three parts:

Part I
Orchestrating Strengths is an introduction and includes sections on Team roles, and a short section on Orchestrating the whole team. This deals with potential conflicts, an outline team training session, and finally a section on Learning and NLP, including an activity on learning channels of reception.

Part II
Creating your own team strength activities, 60 pages with sections on Questionnaires, Card games, Outdoor activities, Practical activities, Role plays, Word games, Dilemma boards, Object based activity, pen and pencil activities, ranking, drawing, trust games and problem solving.

Part III
12 detailed activities with detailed advice on how to use them to develop team strengths
There is a useful grid of which activity achieves a particular purpose.
There is a useful feedback form and an Appendix of A5 visuals to be used as slides which could be used as part of a presentation. These are designed to be photocopied onto acetate.

There are three additional booklets which fit into the cover- these are Team Strengths Questionnaire Self assessment, Team Strengths Questionnaire Other Assessment, and Team Strengths Card Game.

Positive points
The team strengths questionnaire, has 2 parts, a self assessment version of 12 pages, and an assessment to be completed by a colleague, of 5 pages.
There is a Team Strengths Card Game which can be used once individuals have assessed their own team strengths to understand their own and colleagues team strengths.
It would be a very practical purchase for an in-company trainer who has been asked to run a day long event on Team Building.
I’ll be using some of the materials that I found in here.

Negative points
The tool would be improved with the addition of a CD to include these slides, and copies of the other exercises available. An alternative would be to have the activities downloadable on a password protected website.

Chris Green

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