Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, a chair established to support the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful enterprises that contribute to the betterment of society.
Edmondson, recognized in 2011, 2013 and 2015 by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers, teaches and writers on leadership, teams and organizational learning. Her articles have been published in Harvard Business Review and California Management Review, as well as in academic journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly and the Academy of Management Journal. Her books, Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate and compete in the knowledge economy and Teaming to Innovate (Jossey-Bass, 2012, 2103) explore teamwork in dynamic, unpredictable work environments. Her latest book, Building the future: Big teaming for audacious innovation (Berrett-Koehler, 2016), reveals the challenges and opportunities of teaming across industries.
Before her academic career, she was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked on the design and implementation of transformational change in large companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (Birkauser Boston, 1987) clarifies Fuller's mathematical contributions for a non-technical audience. Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design, all from Harvard University.
Machiavelli famously wrote, "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." That's what this book is about—innovation far more audacious than a new way to find a restaurant or a smart phone you can wear on your wrist. Amy C. Edmondson and Susan Salter Reynolds explore large-scale systemic innovation that calls for "big teaming": intense collaboration between professions and industries with completely different mindsets. To explore the kind of leadership required to build the future, Edmondson and Reynolds tell the story of an award-winning "smart city" start-up launched with the ambitious goal of creating a showcase high-tech city from scratch. The collaboration brought together software entrepreneurs, real estate developers, city government officials, architects, builders, and technology corporations. Taking a close look at the work, norms, and values in each of these professional domains, readers gain insight into why teaming across fields is so challenging, and what leaders can do to help.
How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy
New breakthrough thinking in organizational learning, leadership, and change
Continuous improvement, understanding complex systems, and promoting innovation are all part of the landscape of learning challenges today's companies face. Amy Edmondson shows that organizations thrive, or fail to thrive, based on how well the small groups within those organizations work. In most organizations, the work that produces value for customers is carried out by teams, and increasingly, by flexible team-like entities. The pace of change and the fluidity of most work structures means that it's not really about creating effective teams anymore, but instead about leading effective teaming.
Teaming shows that organizations learn when the flexible, fluid collaborations they encompass are able to learn. The problem is teams, and other dynamic groups, don't learn naturally. Edmondson outlines the factors that prevent them from doing so, such as interpersonal fear, irrational beliefs about failure, groupthink, problematic power dynamics, and information hoarding. With Teaming, leaders can shape these factors by encouraging reflection, creating psychological safety, and overcoming defensive interpersonal dynamics that inhibit the sharing of ideas. Further, they can use practical management strategies to help organizations realize the benefits inherent in both success and failure.
Based on years of research, this book shows how leaders can make organizational learning happen by building teams that learn.