/ MOR 570– Leading Effective Teams
Section 16721R
JKP 102, Wednesdays6:00 – 10:00 pm
Summer 2012

Terance J. Wolfe, Ph.D.


Office:Bridge 307-F



Office Hours:Thursday, 4:30 – 5:30;by appt

Course Overview


The goal of this course is to enhance participant understanding of the nature and the processes of effective groups, and what it takes to build and lead them as high performance teams.

Teams are an endemic aspect of culture and society. Whether playing sports, singing choir, playing in the orchestra, performing ballet, or parenting, one is engaged in team-based activities.

Organizations increasingly rely upon teams as a primary work unit. Whether you are in supply chain management, customer relationship management, marketing and sales, new product development, manufacturing engineering, project management, information systems, cross-functional task forces, or consulting, you will inevitably be solicited to contribute to team-based organizational initiatives.

Despite their ubiquity and our collective competence in building and leading sports and performance teams, there is often little understanding of what it takes to build a cohesive and effective work team. Members are assigned, objectives are given, resources (if you’re lucky) are allocated, but beyond that there is scant guidance or direction provided as to how to actually pull a specific set of individuals together to function as an integrated and high performing work team. That unmet need is what this course is all about.

There are useful theories, frameworks and concepts based upon decades of social science research that inform our understanding of high performance teams. These will be used as the backdrop for our activities. This course will be guided by theory, but it will focus on practice.

This course is very applied in nature. It is based upon the premise that there are a set of finite, specific, learnable skills essential to effective work team performance. The focus of this class is the identification and development of those skills. As such, the majority of class time will be engaged in experiential skill-building activities.

Organizations are always in pursuit of competitive advantage – at least they should be! High performance teams, as an aspect of organizational culture, can provide an organization with a unique and extremely difficult to imitate source of competitive advantage.


Su 2012 – Syllabus 570-16721


The objectives of this course will focus on the requisite knowledge and skills to build and lead high performing teams. At the conclusion of this course, participants should:

  1. Know and understand critical underlying theories and concepts that guide the formation, development and leadership of high performance work teams.
  2. Know and understand the eight essential skills necessary for superior work team performance.
  3. Demonstrate mastery of the eight essential high performance work team skills.

Instructional Philosophy

The key to acquiring knowledge is involvement. As a graduate student, you are expected to participate actively, responsibly, and competently. Involvement will be in the form of discussion, questioning, active engagement and experimentation, analysis, reports, and problem-solving. I have high expectations for your participation. You must take the initiative to prepare adequately for each session through reading, exploring, and analyzing assigned material.

Each student can achieve the course objectives through the following process:

  1. Competent preparation -- demonstrated by active participation in assigned activities, including case and activity preparation, analysis, and discussion.
  2. Integration of subject matter -- demonstrated through in-class behavior, and oral and written reports.
  3. Professional approach -- demonstrated by reflecting a mature, responsible, and managerial perspective to the analysis and understanding of organizations and the concepts under review. This may be evidenced by respect for the thoughts and contributions of your classmates as well as the instructor.
  4. Punctuality -- demonstrated by timely arrival for each class session, as well as timely delivery of course assignments.

Course Values

Several values will be useful for orienting yourself to this course. These include the following:

  1. Attitude of experimentation
  2. Orientation towards risk
  3. Transcending boundaries and self-imposed limits

Course Format

The course will employ a variety of pedagogical approaches including lecture, discussion, in-class and ELC exercises, case analyses, videos, and team presentations.

Required Texts

Lencioni, Patrick (2002) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Arbinger Institute (2002) Leadership and Self-Deception, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Course Reader. A set of Harvard materials (articles and cases) available through USC Bookstore.


Su 2012 – Syllabus 570-16721

Requirements & Grading

Each participant must satisfactorily complete and pass each of the following requirements:

  1. Advanced preparation of class assignments
  2. Class participation15%
  3. Self-assessment (due July 18)20%
  4. Compare and Contrast (due June 27)15%

Subtotal Individual Evaluations 50%

  1. Team case analysis: Overhead Reduction Task Force10%

(due July 11)

  1. Group Project (due August 1)

Professor Evaluation 20%

Peer Evaluation10%

Class Ranking10%

Subtotal Group Evaluations 50%


Your score is a function of your relative performance on each of these requirements.


Assessments of student performance fall into two broad classes of evaluation: individual contributions, and group analyses and presentations.

A.Individual Contributions (45%)

Each student has direct and complete control over fifty (50) percent of her/his final grade. There are three basic components of this grade: class participation (15%), self-description assessment (20%), and a compare and contrast (15%). You must receive a passing grade on each of these for overall individual success.

Class Participation (15%):

The primary instructional vehicle is discussion and engagement in classroom and ELC exercises and cases. The majority of class time will be devoted to these activities. Class participation is essential to course success. It is imperative, therefore, that students thoroughly prepare in advance of each class.

Self-Assessment and Goal Statement – due May 30, start of class

Complete a two-paragraph (<1-page double-spaced) goal statement that includes a brief statement of your strengths and weaknesses as a team member (1 paragraph), and a declaration of a personal goal – what you want to get out of the course (1 paragraph).

Learning Experiments and Personal Self-Assessment (20%) – due July 18

Learning Experiments.Each participant will design and conduct at least three (3) personal learning experiments intended to improve or enhance your performance as an effective team member. A learning experiment is derived from reflection upon an “as is” condition, where an “as is” condition is linked to “concrete experience” (to be defined and illustrated in class). A learning experiment is based upon an “if – then” hypothesis about behavior and its consequences that is derived from an “as is” condition. It might take the following form: “If I try new behavior X, then outcome Y will happen”. Your experiment will be a test of the validity of the hypothesis. The setting for a learning experiment is any situation or activity that presents you with a meaningful opportunity to engage as an effective team member.

For each experiment, specify the following:

  • The purpose or objective of the experiment
  • The action or behavior undertaken
  • The relevance or personal meaning of the experiment
  • An assessment of your effectiveness in executing the experiment
  • A statement of the outcome of the experiment
  • A statement as to how, if at all, your first learning experiment informed the design and execution of your second learning experiment
  • A statement as to how, if at all, your second learning experiment informed the design and execution of your third learning experiment

Personal Self-Assessment. Successful C-level executives consistently respond that the single most important activity contributing to their overall effectiveness is the development of self-insight, and the translation of that into their management and leadership practice. This assignment represents an opportunity for you to do just that!

You will receive a cross-section of personal individualized feedback through a variety of self-assessment instruments. These include the Learning Style Inventory (LSI), Decision Style Inventory (DSI), and Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Management Inventory (TKI). Each of these instruments is deemed useful in better understanding yourself broadly, but as a team member, specifically. Together, they present you with invaluable tools for personal reflection, building self-awareness and understanding, and advancing your personal development.

The Deliverable: An integrated assessment of self as effective team member with a developmental action plan. If you attend the optional Ropes Course, feel free to draw upon that experience in relation to any aspect of this deliverable – learning experiments, personal style, developmental action plan. Briefly address each of the following:

PART A – Learning Experiments

  • Restate (modifying as appropriate) the learning goals you submitted at the second class session.
  • Briefly describe each of your three team effectiveness learning experiments in terms of its goal, design, implementation, and outcome. Include a statement of your perception of each experiment’s effectiveness.
  • What did you learn?
  • How, if at all, have your experiments affected your performance/ability as an effective team member?

PART B – Self-Assessment Instrument Feedback

  • Review and reflect upon your self-assessment feedback.
  • What patterns, relationships, connections do you see?
  • How would you characterize yourself as a team member given this feedback? In what types of teams would you see yourself as more effective? Less effective?
  • What do you now see as the strengths of your style? Its shortcomings?
  • How might your style interfere with your ability to achieve the outcomes you desire?
  • Rate your personal effectiveness as an effective, contributing team member.

PART C – Personal Development Plan

  • Given your self-identified strengths and shortcomings as a team member, what new learning goal(s) can you formulate for yourself?
  • Construct a specific, behaviorally-oriented personal action plan to address your identified areas for development.

This paper should be approximately 8 pages, double-spaced, Times Roman 12 font. It is due at start of class, July 18.

Compare/Contrast (15%)

Compare/contrast (15%). Each participant will submit a 3-5 page, double-spaced, 12-point font paper that compares and contrasts the consensus and devil’s advocate approaches to team decision-making as you experienced them in the “Growing Pains” and “The Case of the Unhealthy Hospital” case studies. What specific insights do you get about (1) yourself, (2) team and interpersonal dynamics, and (3) team decision-making as a result of this exercise? What could you personally do to effect different – and more satisfying – outcomes in the future? DueJune 27.

B.Group Analyses and Presentations(50%)

Fifty (50) percent of each individual’s grade is a function of her/his ability to work with others and make contributions toward collective performance through analyses and presentations. An essential attribute of organizational success, and a quality often stressed by recruiters, is the ability to work effectively with others. This course allows you to develop your skills in contributing to task groups and collective performance. It does this through a written case assessment, and a group project and oral presentation.

Participants will form themselves into groups of six students each (Everest criterion).

Overhead Reduction Task Force Case (10%) – due July 11

Each team, as a team, will develop an assessment and brief write-up (~5 pages, double-spaced) of the Overhead Reduction Task Force Case. Your assessment should address the following questions:

  • Given ORTF’s composition and purpose, what should Williams expect at the first meeting of the task force?
  • How should he prepare for that meeting, and how, specifically, should the first meeting be conducted?
  • What, if any, discussion format should be implemented?
  • Justify your answers using appropriate course concepts

Team Term Project – Team Analysis and Consultation (40%) – due Aug 1

The purposes of the group project are to enable each student, through individual effort and group interaction, to observe, analyze, understand and feed-back an assessment of a real team’s problem-solving and decision-making process. Group projects will be jointly evaluated by the professor (50% of the project, 20% of the total grade),team members (25% of the project, 10% of the total grade), and the rest of the class (25% of the project, 10% of the total grade).

Requirements: See Handout: “Teams_Getting Acquainted”.

Team Project Topic. Each team will identify and define a meaningful team term project topic (due June 13). The final term project should entail the specification of a suitable deliverable. This includes a description of the organization, situation, problem/issue to be addressed, the approach, the solution/outcome, and a reflective account of your team’s approach to include its own structure, roles, process, conflict and decision-dynamics.

The paper and presentation should address relevant team concepts and processes; in particular, as they apply to your own team’s process and dynamics as it set out to achieve the outcomes of your term project. It should also address specific individual and team learnings about the formation, development and leadership of effective teams. The final paper should be about 20 pages (due Aug 1). Allow one hour for final team presentation and Q&A (July 25 & Aug 1).

Written and Oral Report (20%). Each group will prepare a 20-30 page written report (typed, double-spaced, edited, spell-checked, paginated), and present it to the class as a whole. Each group will have one hour to present. Groups should plan for approximately forty minute presentations, and twenty minutes of questions and discussion. Written projects are due from all groups at the start of class on Wednesday, August 1. Late submissions will be penalized (one full letter grade).

Class Rankings (10%). Each team presentation will be ranked by the rest of the class from 1 (most effective) to 5 (least effective). The team ranked most effective will receive an A+; the team ranked least effective will receive a B-. The remaining teams will be distributed in between.

Peer Evaluations (10%). As one might expect, group assignments pose evaluation problems as to the contributions of individual members -- a problem well acknowledged in the literature on organizational economics. Specifically, this poses a problem of ``opportunism’’ or ``shirking’’ in team production. To control for such opportunism, each team member’s performance will be evaluated by every other member; that is, by those who are most likely to know, and therefore most capable of evaluating, individual contributions to group effort. Ten (10) percent of your total grade, and twenty-five (25) percent of your group grade, will be assessed through peer evaluation.

It is important to be aware that the distribution of ``A’s’’ within a group is constrained; this includes A+, A, and A-. You cannot assign A’s (of any form) to more than 60% of your total group members. A 6-person group cannot have more than four A’s, 7-person = 4 A’s. Please review the peer evaluation form in advance so that you understand the criteria and the conditions of peer evaluations (see Attached).


In preparation for our first class session, please do the following:

  • Think about your expectations and goals for this course
  • Read Lencioni – ALL. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (a very interesting, yet very easy, read)
  • Read Senge, The Fifth Discipline, Chapter 12, Team Learning, pps 233-269 (Course Reader)


Su 2012 – Syllabus 570-16721

Journals and Resource Materials

Academy of Management Journal
Academy of Management Review
Administrative Science Quarterly
American Sociological Review
Business Horizons
California Management Review
Harvard Business Review
Human Relations
Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Journal of Management Inquiry
Journal of Organizational Change Management
Management Science
Organizational Dynamics
Organization Science
Organization Studies
Sloan Management Review / Barons
Business 2.0
Business Week
Fast Company
The Futurist
Wall Street Journal


Su 2012 – Syllabus 570-16721

Academic Integrity Policy

The Marshall School is committed to upholding the University’s Academic Integrity code as detailed in the SCampus Guide. It is the policy of the Marshall School to report all violations of the code. Any serious violation or pattern of violations of the Academic Integrity Code will result in the student’s expulsion from the degree program.

It is particularly important that you are aware of and avoid plagiarism, cheating on exams, fabricating data for a project, submitting a paper to more than one professor, or submitting a paper authored by anyone other than yourself. If you have doubts about any of these practices, confer with a faculty member.

Resources on academic dishonesty can be found on the Student Judicial Affairs Web site ( The “Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism” addresses issues of paraphrasing, quotations, and citation in written assignments, drawing heavily upon materials used in the university’s writing program. “Understanding and avoiding academic dishonesty” addresses more general issues of academic integrity, including guidelines for adhering to standards concerning examinations and unauthorized collaboration. The “2005-2006 SCampus” ( contains the university’s student conduct code.

Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.


Su 2012 – Syllabus 570-16721


Dr. Wolfe is the founder and principal of AE2GIS Group providing consultation services in strategy-driven performance and change management, as well as the design, delivery, and evaluation of management and executive development programs. Dr. Wolfe has consulted for a variety of organizations in the public and private sectors both domestically and abroad (client listing available upon request).

Consultation and Executive Development services include strategy-driven performance management, organizational assessments, change management, conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, leadership and top management team development, work force diversity, and strategic planning. Dr. Wolfe has provided a variety of supervisory, managerial, and executive development workshops in the aerospace, high tech, biotech and telecommunications industries, and for the US Department of Defense in Germany.