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Dream Teams by Shane Snow

Quick now. When I say “dream teams” – what or who do you imagine? A sports team, perhaps? What if I I told you, I was part of dream team once, and now building my own? I already had an idea of what a  dream team should and could be, then I read Shane Snow’s Dream Teams.

At 250 pages, it’s a relatively short read rich with information and some seemingly counterintuitive ideas of what makes a team, a dream team. One example is the caveat to not surround others who think as you do, but who challenge your thinking, and offer fresh perspectives. Winston Churchhill was once quoted saying, “if two people agree on everything, then one of them is not needed.”

Having people on a team who don’t think like each other challenges everyone to not only think harder, but also to think from different angles.

In order for a team to grow, it must have a range of perspectives and not always in agreement with the status quo.

“Groups of people who tended to […] on a given challenge were sometimes correct, and sometimes not. But groups that had one or two people who often disagreeed with the majority opinion ended up getting more answers right.” ~ page 127, Dream Teams by Shane Snow.

Imagine if children had listened to their parents at the birth of rock-and-roll? Or what if Steve Jobs had listened to his detractors and given up or given in to the status quo of the time? One of the best examples I know of a Dream Team is the San Antonio Spurs and in a recent farewell letter to them, Tony Parker explains why.

As Snow points out throughout the book, a dream team is more than collaboration, and more than the people involved. It is a unique combination of the right people at the right time and in the right place. Using historical data, interviews, neuroscience, and psychology to weave a story not only of how to create a dream team, but how these kinds of teams have made impacts on our lives. From the core of our law enforcement entitities to the analytics of sports teams, he explains what makes teams go from simply working together, to growing together for the better.

As someone who likes to study behaviors (c’mon, I didn’t go to the mall to shop), I was  surprised to find stories about how lateral thinking got people in doors others thought were closed to them. How getting to the root of a problem upended and changed for the better the lackadaisacal infrastruture pervading our early health systems.

But, my favorite, in light of our world today, was how two cultures came together in peaceful coexistence.

How much better of a society could we be if we employed the best practices learned in this book?

It has challenged me to think laterally when solving my own problems and has made me realize I’m building my own dream team.

The added value in Snow’s book is also his own dream team in creating and writing the book. From the foreward by Aaron Walton of Walton Isaacson to the special afterword by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant as well as his own closeknit team, who each played their part to get the book written – editors, graphic designers, and confidantes.

His book doesn’t end when the last pages are read. For those who want to dig deeper, there are links to additional resources, his notes and bibliography, and ways for you to be part of the team.

If you’re a lifelong learner interested in the why and how people relate together to be better together, this book is for you.

If you like to take a deeper dive into history and want to discover surprising events unfolded to create the entities you know today as the first private security firm in the US, the FBI, the mental health system, and more, this book is for you.

But, the best part? As you build your own dream team, there are exercises and assessments to help you along the way.

Image by Lisa Street Rogers








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