The Triumphant Team: 40 dynamic practices to transform any team
Review by Dr Elinor Vettraino
Director of Aston’s Centre for Enterprise, Coaching and Innovation, Aston University

Ever experienced a universal groan when suggesting people work in teams to complete a task? As an academic I am often faced with colleagues (both staff and students) whose experience of being part of a team or working collaboratively with others has been less than enjoyable. Often this is because of a lack of understanding about what a team actually is, how you should work within a team to be the most effective and productive, and what you have to understand about yourself and the impact you have on those you work with to get the most out of a collaborative experience.

Declan’s new book ‘The Triumphant Team’ offers readers a great insight into the starting places for teams, what enables teams to function and what doesn’t, along with some great suggestions in the forms of practice activities that will move teams’ productivity forwards. What I like about this text is that it is clearly structured into two main parts with a third providing excellent resources for practitioners to engage with that will support them on their journey.

The flow of the book takes the reader through the process of understanding how teams develop and to do this, Declan uses his own teamSalient 6-stage model of team development. Adapted from Tuckman’s original team development model, what I like about the teamSalient model is that allows for flex and change in the process; a team’s journey is rarely straightforward or linear and movement in and around a model of development is crucial.

Following this initial part of the book, the Declan moves onto the nuts and bolts of how to put into practice effective team working and playing. This part is helpful in many ways. Firstly, there is an exploration of what we mean by ‘a practice’. This is followed by understanding what different practice is required by and for teams at different stages. Declan offers a table that maps the different team practices to the various stages of team formation, these being:

• Orientating
• Resolving
• Collaborating • Achieving
• Excelling
• Re-orientating

It is clear to see how these map to the traditional Tuckman development steps.

Moving forward, each of the practices is broken down in the same structural format, the consistency of which is extremely helpful. Readers are invited to understand what part of team formation or development each practice can be useful for, what the practice itself is, and then the logistics of running the practice (timings, duration, a ‘how-to’ process guide), along with some advice about what will make each practice more effective.

This book is both informative and engaging in terms of content and approach. It feels like Declan is holding your hand through the ups and downs of working with and in teams.

About the reviewer

Elinor is the Director of Aston’s Centre for Enterprise, Coaching and Innovation and heads up the innovative Business Enterprise Development programmes based on the Finnish Team Academy model of entrepreneurship education. Her focus is on leadership, cultural and organisational change and team coaching using creative approaches to support individuals, teams, groups and organisations to stretch and discover. She has a background in education, coaching, creative industries and leadership.

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