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Team Genius

The New Science of High-Performing Organizations

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About the Book

A groundbreaking book that sheds new light on the vital importance of teams as the fundamental unit of organization and competition in the global economy.

Teams—we depend on them for both our professional success and our personal happiness. But isn't it odd how little scrutiny we give them? The teams that make up our lives are created mostly by luck, happenstance, or circumstance—but rarely by design. In trivial matters—say, a bowling team, the leadership of a neighborhood group, or a holiday party committee—success by serendipity is already risky enough. But when it comes to actions by fast-moving start-ups, major corporations, nonprofit institutions, and governments, leaving things to chance can be downright dangerous.

Offering vivid reports of the latest scientific research, compelling case studies, and great storytelling, Team Genius shows managers and executives that the planning, design, and management of great teams no longer have to be a black art. It explores solutions to essential questions that could spell the difference between success and obsolescence. Do you know how to reorganize your subpar teams to turn them into top performers? Can you identify which of the top-performing teams in your company are reaching the end of their life span? Do you have the courage to shut them down? Do you know how to create a replacement team that will be just as effective—without losing time or damaging morale? And, most important, are your teams the right size for the job?

Throughout, Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone share insights and real-life examples gleaned from their careers as journalists, analysts, investors, and globetrotting entrepreneurs, meeting successful teams and team leaders to reveal some "new truths":

  • The right team size is usually one fewer person than what managers think they need.
  • The greatest question facing good teams is not how to succeed, but how to die.
  • Good "chemistry" often makes for the least effective teams.
  • Cognitive diversity yields the highest performance gains—but only if you understand what it is.
  • How to find the "bliss point" in team intimacy—and become three times more productive.
  • How to identify destructive team members before they do harm.
  • Why small teams are 40 percent more likely to create a successful breakthrough than a solo genius is.
  • Why groups of 7 (± 2), 150, and 1,500 are magic sizes for teams.

Eye-opening, grounded, and essential, Team Genius is the next big idea to revolutionize business.

About the Authors

Rich Karlgaard

Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes magazine, where he writes a featured column, Innovation Rules, covering business and leadership issues. An accomplished entrepreneur as well as a journalist and speaker, he is a cofounder of Upside magazine, Garage Technology Partners, and Silicon Valley's premier public business forum, the 7,500-member Churchill Club. He is also the author of Life 2.0 and The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success. He lives with his family in Silicon Valley.

Michael S. Malone

Michael S. Malone is one of the world's best-known technology writers. A veteran newspaper reporter and columnist, magazine editor, and entrepreneur, he is the author or coauthor of nearly twenty award-winning books, notably the bestselling The Virtual Corporation, Bill & Dave, and The Intel Trinity.


“Companies thrive when employees are empowered to do their best work every day. Inclusive teams that value diverse perspectives and have passion for new ideas encourage continuous learning. Team Genius offers a practical approach to fostering top-performing teams.” —SATYA NADELLA, chief executive officer, Microsoft

“In Team Genius, [Karlgaard and Malone] explore the numbers game and explain the surprising correlations between success and team size.” —Success magazine

“Persuasive and crucial…Team Genius, a splendid example of team achievement, lays out what you need to know about a subject that’s becoming more important than ever to an organization’s success.” —Steve Forbes, Forbes

“Today’s exponential entrepreneur-anyone interested in going big, creating wealth, and impacting the world-must leverage the world’s talent. Team Genius shows how.” —PETER H. DIAMANDIS, MD, chairman and chief executive officer, X PRIZE; executive chairman, Singularity University; New York Times bestselling author of Abundance and Bold

“a useful overview of the science of teams….” —Financial Times

“Team Genius explores a question key for any organization: What causes teams to succeed or fail? Karlgaard and Malone look at how leaders can create conditions for success by embracing differences within teams, bringing out the best in people, and understanding that we are hardwired to collaborate.” —ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, founder of Huffington Post Media and author of Thrive

“This book offers valuable insights for twenty-first-century management.” —Booklist

“What topic is this dream team of writers bringing us? The very nature and architecture of dream teams-how to think about them, staff and support them, and when to dismantle them and build anew.” —800-CEO-Read

“With 300,000 team members around the world, thousands of trucks, and hundreds of aircraft, FedEx delivers more than 2 billion packages a year. We can only do this with exceptional teams of people. Team Genius advances our thinking on what makes highly effective and maneuverable teams.” —FREDERICK W. SMITH, founder, and chief executive officer, FedEx Corporation