High Five! The Magic of Working Together : Book Review, Aug'07

I read somewhere the quote, “Divine spark is the difference between a crowd and a team.” from the book ‘High Five! The Magic of Working Together’ and wanted to understand it better.  That was when I read the book. And guess what I found - an inspirational account of how to build teams and what teamwork is all about. . . Drawing inspiration from sports which have produced some superb teams, the best selling authors of ‘Raving fans’ and Gung Ho!’ have spun a stirring tale of creating winning teams.

Alan, a good performer, is fired from work for being a poor team player. As he takes his son to his grade-five hockey practice, it is clear to him that his son's team, also knows nothing about teamwork. The team's coaches persuade him to join them, and ironically Alan finds himself responsible for teaching the players teamwork. What then unfolds is a journey worth emulating. With the help of a former girls' basketball coach, Alan and the team learn the value and power of teamwork.


There are some fundamental lessons of what makes good teams viz., “giving clear sense of purpose” and “continuously building individual skills”. There are valuable tips for good team building like “keeping the accent on the positive” and “repeated reward and recognition”. The book’s essence is captured in the line, “A team is wonderful thing. It allows us to achieve things far beyond our own ability, while at the same time keeps us humble.”I especially Iiked the idea that teamwork not only improves team performance but also improves individual performances.

What is wonderful about the book is the way the four simple techniques for creating great teamwork are illustrated through the trails and tribulations of the characters. There are some lessons which defy logic like having to let go highly skilled but non team players to improve team performance, teams can beat other teams with better performers, you don’t have to win to achieve and reward those who pass balls to others rather than hit goals themselves. The book provides practical suggestions like drawing up a team charter, measuring and comparing skills, not giving any negative feedback, having individual goals, cross training team members etc.

The story is touching, the style is engaging and the applications in an organization context is evident.  It can be read easily and quickly. The story is so charming that you may tend to read it like any other racy novel. But it is just impossible to miss the lessons. When I finished reading the book I desperately wanted to feel the magic of working with a team. I hope you do too.