Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment

Lack of Commitment resulting from Ambiguity

Synopsis:  If the members of the team do not believe in the main goal of the team, ultimately, they will not support it.


“The next dysfunction of a team is the lack of commitment and the failure to buy in to   decisions” (Lencioni, 2002, p.93).

“Consensus becomes an attempt to please everyone” (Lencioni, 2002, p.95).

“Most reasonable people don’t have to get their way in a discussion. They just need to be heard, and to know that their input was considered and responded to” (Lencioni, 2002, p.95).

“People aren’t going to hold each other accountable if they haven’t clearly bought in to the same plan” (Lencioni, 2002, p.99).

“If everything is important, then nothing is” (Lencioni, 2002, p.106).

A team that fails to commit... (Lencioni, 2002, p. 209)
  • Creates ambiguity among the team about direction and priorities
  • Watches windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay
  • Breeds lack of confidence and fear of failure
  • Revisits discussions and decisions again and again
  • Encourages second-guessing among team members
A team that commits... (Lencioni, 2002, p. 209)
  • Creates clarity around direction and priorities
  • Aligns the entire team around common objectives
  • Develops an ability to learn from mistakes
  • Takes advantage of opportunities before competitors do
  • Moves forward without hesitation
  • Changes direction without hesitation or guilt

Suggestions for reducing lack of commitment (Lencioni, 2002, 210-211)
  • Cascading Messaging - at the end of each meeting, the team should review key decisions made and agree on what should and should not be communicated to the rest of the staff.  Through this exercise, team members can ensure they are on the same page about all major decisions.
  • Deadlines - by simply defining clear deadlines for when decisions must be made, a team can reduce ambiguity and misalignment among team members.  Deadlines should be set for final/major decisions and actions as well as milestones along the way.
  • Contingency and Worst-Case Scenario Analysis - by discussing contingency plans and/or worst-case scenarios, teams can overcome their fear of commitment.  It allows them to reduce fears by helping facing the possible pitfalls.
Consider the suggestions above for reducing lack of commitment.  Which of these suggestions do you think would work well for your team and why?
(Please click on the 'comments' below and leave your response)


  1. Cascading Messaging. I like this suggestion for any meeting. It is always helpful to review what has been agreed upon at the end of the meeting since some people hear things differently from others. I will try to use this consistently with our technology committee and hope that it moves us forward in a smoother manner.

  2. I like the Cascading Messaging also. It involves everyone in the group, allowing him or her to express an opinion. But it also finalizes what has been decided and will be shared with the entire organization. It's a step toward eliminating any confusion about what was decided.

  3. Cascading Messaging; my organization has currently started using cascading messaging at the end of meeting. This is an excellent way to recap and leave feeling like there was a purpose. I also think round table (reporting on what each individual is working on) is helpful. This helps everyone to know who is doing what and where.


Add your comments about the above dysfunction and discussion question here.