Skip to main content

BOOK REVIEW: Outclass Teams: Secrets of Building High-Performance, Result-Oriented Teams / Author: Qaiser Abbas

Thanks to Possibilities Publications for the review copy

Published by Daily Times / Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Runaway Teams beware. Qaiser Abbas is an organisational psychologist, author of books like the Tik Tok Dollar and the upcoming Leadership Insights — and one canny facilitator who introduced Pakistan to the concept of ‘Management by Adventure’, or as he likes to call it, MBA. His mission of rescuing wayward teams from doom makes him dash in and out of companies on a regular basis. Prompted by the success of such expeditions, he proceeds to refine these insights for a book on team-building and a lecture on group dynamics.

As someone who specialised in using experiential learning methodology in outdoor training, Abbas swears by well-structured one-day team-building programmes over time spent bonding over social activities. His recent book takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon to determine the value of team-building, show the expertise needed to ensure its success and, once achieved, evaluate its impact on overall performance. The path to redemption is lined with wisdom (conventional/unconventional) marketed with considerable flair. Every so often an enthusiastic yell of ‘Are you Ready’ (in all caps) cuts across the wilderness — and then the readers are off for a crash course in building great teams.

“Teams are fluid, they do not remain the same, team work is not automatic, team spirit is not constant and team bond is not immortal,” he announces, admitting that he often goes “off-track to meet the needs of different teams and clients”. While team-building is not the ultimate ‘fixit’, Abbas will insist that “a sound, well-coordinated and totally customised team-building experience” is a good place to start.

Written in a dry textbook format, he customises his pitch to appeal to prospective clients just as much as facilitators in training or troubled teams looking for a saviour. By tying real life examples around tried and tested concepts, a change of scenery is suggested to stage such interventions. In his opinion, “team-building is the beginning and not the end” and helping teams in dire straits requires being cognizant with stress fractures and a willingness to embrace what might be perceived as radical concepts in closed societies.

The author must not have come across much resistance and happily shares the seven key secrets of an outclass team before guiding readers though his customised team-building programmes where teams discover, compete, transform, partner, build and revitalise. He then rifles through their psyche and since each team differs, the resultant methodology will differ accordingly. Along the way he will make surprising pronouncements — like how conflicts can actually be good and argue that well-defined challenges can help motivate lacklustre teams.

This handbook further clarifies the role of the facilitator, the dos and don’ts of high performing teams, laying down some fixed tenets that must be obeyed for the process to take hold. It goes on to expand on the role of a team facilitator outlining a list of team-building exercises in the six stage process designed to help organisations alter their trajectory. Before trainers rush out to try out these recipes, they are forestalled with an analysis of why some team-building programmes fail where others succeed with personal anecdotes thrown in to enliven these discussions. Some of the indicators might include aloof managers, a shortsighted approach instead of a long term strategy, or failure to defer to an outsider “with no agenda and more credibility”.

These exercises could be extensions of party games but here they are used to rekindle the dormant spark and fortify team spirit. Cultural constraints that might hinder his well-meaning efforts remain unexplored. While the information presented within provides a framework for creating a solid base; it also stops to strategise to make these changes stick by listing seven keys that keep the revitalisation process in constant motion.

This ambitious study attempts to place the prevalent corporate culture in context while outlining the moving parts of a successful team-building programme. It demonstrates how such a tiered approach can help companies circumnavigate corporate landmines and reconfigure a broken team. For the author, all this is part of a process “that brings people to a point where they can appreciate each other’s essence and ultimately this appreciation becomes the driver for collaboration”.

Judging from the eager testimonials listed on the cover, his visionary approach has inspired countless already. There was one who initially worried that “sharing trade secrets was tantamount to professional hara-kiri” (he later comes around) — others might take this book of revelations as a smartly worded proposal generously seasoned with elegantly designed solutions to sweeten a bland presentation. In either case, after floating such enticing images of “results oriented, high performance teams” an inexplicable urge to get an ‘MBA’ would be understandable.

Possibilities Publications;
Pp 204; Rs 1,450

Comments

  1. Hello Afrah,
    I visited your web site many many times. You know! your posts in general are really interesting for me.

    I love your style of writing and specially some magical "words". I have used dictionary to know a lot new words.

    YOU ARE AMAZING

    ReplyDelete
  2. The complete picture needs and online/offline experience and the chance to meet up, network and get referrals with real people.
    atlanta team building

    ReplyDelete
  3. The book review out class teams secrets is shared on the post here. Good post

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Op-Ed: MQM in Hot Soup

First Published in Economic Affairs - Islamabad based Magazine (Pakistan) / Aug 2013
BY Afrah Jamal


‘What was it for
?' The BBC Two anchor asks Farooq Sattar (MQM’s Deputy Convener and Parliamentary leader) with an impassive face, referring to the stash of pounds found after a raid on Altaf Hussain’s London pad.

‘Whatever it was for’, he answers, at his inarticulate best.

The word ‘body bags’ ominously flashes on the screen, Mr. Sattar changes tactics; ‘we were all laughing’, dismissing it as a joke.

The savvy anchor runs more damning clips.

‘It is out of context’, Farooq declares. ‘There is no reference to context’, he adds helpfully.

But your own SC took notice…

‘o’ that’, ‘mere emotional outburst.

Unlike those ‘media types’ this party member would not speculate on the origins or purpose of the stash. He, like other loyalists filed away the latest episode under ‘more malicious propaganda’ and ‘sinister witch hunts’, accused BBC of falling prey to Taliban influences and conti…

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

Rebuttal: ‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’

Published in Global Village Space under the title: Is Pakistan as extremist as portrayed by the Western media?/ Sept 2017

‘Finding a Safe Place for Pakistani Christians’ by Marijana PETIR, Member of the European Parliament – finds systemic persecution in Pakistan’s backyard, implying a clear and present danger to minority groups while bypassing an inclusive society that honors and respects the contributions of its minority communities or a nation that deems the eradication of discriminatory laws and radical ideology an essential pillar of its counter-terrorism policy.

An impartial review must also consider the state funeral given to a German nun, the national flag flown at half mast as a mark of respect and the military men who carried her casket; remark on the monuments named after Christian martyrs who served their country, meet Roman Catholic Bishops or Franciscan nuns awarded highest honors and note Christian war heroes who are the pride of the nation. The civil society that forme…

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

OPED: The Afghan Policy in Perspective

Published in Global Village Space / Aug 2017

True to its reality show inspired template, the Afghan strategy was rolled out after months of speculations, suspense and dithering. It used memorable taglines and inflated figures. ‘Agents of chaos’, sunk costs described as ‘billions and billions’ and going all in seeking victory against all odds. It offered to be tough on Pakistan, even as it was vague on the outlines and predictable in its deployment.

Reading between the Lines

This is essentially the new, improvised policy meant not just for Afghanistan but also Pakistan and India. With it the U.S. administration appears to have heeded the advice of keeping the enemy in the dark. They have also dismissed the necessity of keeping their allies close and have instead embarked upon a strategic vision that aims to expand the theatre adding India to the volatile mix and potentially widen the gulf between allies.

Yet it is not the public performance of the commander-in-chief that catches the e…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

VIEW: PAF - Both Sides of the COIN

Published In HILAL (Military Mag) Jan 2010

As gleaming multi-role fighters taxi down the runway, their occupants are ready for the looming battle yet, the war they are now about to embark on is unlike anything their predecessors have experienced. If taking on an enemy with a (non-existent) airpower capability and a pervasive hold over Pakistani territory is PAF’s latest mission; seamlessly transitioning from defenders of the skies to defenders of the soil – is its biggest challenge. As a conventionally armed air force adds another dimension of counterinsurgency (COIN) to its formidable list of specialities, the reshuffled priorities have revealed zero collateral damage as a guiding principal, and an intensive inter-services planning with PAK Army high command as a mandatory element of its COIN operations.

While an impressive armada of conventional weaponry is on standby for the long term threat, a more immediate danger puts PAF’s COIN capability to the test. And as the PAF carries on a…