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In this updated, streamlined edition, with a new preface and practical tools, Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman describe an externally focused team model—the xTEAM—that is even more relevant today than when it was first introduced. With their distinctively flexible membership and leadership structure, xTEAMS continuously reach outward to fuel the innovation process. 

With new examples and research from organizations such as Microsoft, Takeda, and the Museum of Modern Art, Ancona and Bresman show you how to build x-teams that:

  • Keep pace with shifts in markets, technologies, cultures, and your competition

  • Innovate by moving quickly from generating ideas to executing and diffusing them throughout your organization

  • Employ "distributed leadership" to unlock crucial information, expertise, and new ways of working together—wherever these qualities reside, whether within or outside your company 


In an increasingly complex and ever-changing world, where adaptability and creativity are paramount to an enterprise's success—and even its survival—xTEAMS is your handbook for winning.


For more and more companies in today’s hyper-competitive business environment, success, and perhaps survival, depends on the ability to generate, leverage, and perhaps most important of all, sustain innovation. An essential work on teams—now updated with new research and tools and a new preface—xTEAMS shows how an externally focused team model is the key to fueling innovation and your organization's success. 


You build a team around top-notch talent. The team members work well together; they're committed to the mission and are highly motivated to perform. Yet the results are disappointing. You're not seeing creativity and flexibility. You're not getting breakthrough ideas.  The question is: how do you build innovation into the very fabric of your day-to-day operation?


One eminently practical answer?  xTEAMS.


"Good" teams build camaraderie, confidence in their abilities, and a solid process for working together. But these internal dynamics—while positive in themselves—can create a wall between the team and the outside world. And that wall can prevent the team from adapting to change and delivering value to the organization. Based on a radical rethinking of what makes teams effective in the real world, xTEAMS approach innovation “from the inside out,” integrating uniquely high levels of external activity with extreme execution. The result? At companies as diverse as Microsoft, BP, Merrill Lynch, CVRD, and Southwest Airlines, xTEAMS have not only generated highly successful new products and services, they’ve played a key role in making innovation a part of the business culture.


Whether your company is an early-stage venture or a Fortune 100 global enterprise, whether you need to drive one critical project, or ten, or twenty…xTEAMS can help you tap into the potential for creative leadership across your entire organization.


In xTEAMS: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate, and Succeed, Ancona and Bresman draw on years of research to show how traditional, inward-looking team models fall short in today’s business environment. What’s needed—and what works —is a new kind of team, the “xTEAM,” with a flexible membership and leadership structure that continuously reaches outward to fuel the innovation process.


xTEAMS may be the most important book on teams to come out in the last two decades.” 


Edgar H. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT Sloan School

of Management

“When xTEAMS was first written, Ancona and Bresman were prescient, well ahead of their time. They understood the changing landscape of teamwork and what it meant long before it was clear. Now, this terrific book is even better: well-researched, packed with engaging stories, and immensely practical.” 

Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management,

Harvard Business School; author, Right Kind of Wrong

“A key challenge for management is 'how to get things done!' Increasingly, teams are the answer. Drawing on years of research, Ancona and Bresman show how teams need to interact externally, as well as function cohesively as a group, in order to succeed.  xTEAMS is a must-read whether you lead, manage, or are a member of a team.” 

John Reed, former Chairman, New York Stock Exchange; Retired Chairman and CEO, Citigroup

“A game-changing book. xTEAMS provides a compelling case for the importance of combining a sharp external focus with robust internal processes to overcome inertia and unlock transformational outcomes. The authors' practical framework is both insightful and actionable, and their real-world examples demonstrate the power of this approach.” 

Elcin Barker Ergun, CEO, Menarini Group

“There are teams and there are xTEAMS. xTEAMS combat our inward-facing tendencies, opening our minds to the diversity and power of the world around us. They have helped us at Takeda R&D to increase our external learning and partnering. Use them as a tool to transform your organization.” 

Andrew Plump, MD, President, Research & Development, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company

“While strong internal cohesion and alignment are key to team success, it's crucial for team leaders at every level to have the humility and vigilance to look outward. xTEAMS spread leadership across the organization and facilitate learning and coordination within and across boundaries. This a must-read for anyone trying to accelerate innovation.” 

Jerry Ng, founder and Chairman, Bank Jago

xTEAMS makes it clear that distributed leadership through external team focus is the most important driver of a team's success.  A worthwhile read.” 

Mike Armstrong, Trustee and former Chairman, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Hospital and Health System; former Chairman, Comcast; former Chairman and CEO, ATT and Hughes

“There are many difficult and intricate tasks that employees have to tackle in today’s enterprise, but none are as complex and risky as innovation. The imperative to design processes and generate intensive collaborations toward shared objectives cannot be realized by chance. Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman's xTEAMS offers a systematic way to surmount this challenge, enhanced by many practical examples.” 

Dan Vasella, former Chairman & CEO, Novartis AG

“One of the first to show that the best teams are often their own worst enemy. By focusing on relationships, trust, and commitment, teams often blind themselves to the larger world—within and beyond their organization—crucial to ultimate success. xTEAMS tells the ‘other half of the story’ about great teams: what it means to balance great teamwork with great work of teams.” 

Peter Senge, Author of The Fifth Discipline

“The authors succeed in conveying the importance of wide-ranging exploration and teamwork as essential for innovation.” 

The Financial Times

“The authors dive into the nitty-gritty details of engineering a better team.” 

Time Magazine

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