Who's in the Room?

How Great Leaders Structure and Manage the Teams Around Them

by Bob Frisch

Number of pages: 208

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

BBB Library: Operations Management

ISBN: 978-1-118-06787-1

About the Author

He has over 30 years of experience designing and facilitating strategy off-sites with executive teams and boards of companies ranging from Fortune 10 multinationals to family-held businesses.


Editorial Review

At the heart of every organization chart lies a myth. At the top there’s the boss. Directly beneath are the boss’s direct reports – anywhere from five to fifteen people who meet regularly as the senior team. Whether at the corporate, divisional, functional, or departmental level, this team almost invariably has a name that suggests its lofty status: Executive Committee, Management Council, Operating Committee, Senior Management Team. The members of this august body are presumed by most managers to spend their time together discussing profound thoughts and making all of the organization’s truly momentous decisions. The reality is that they don’t.

Book Reviews

"He offers helpful suggestions about decision making best practices, including the right number of advisory teams to be organized, the most effective size and composition of each team, considerations of “issue ownership” as each decision evolves toward final disposition, and even the timing of the various tasks involved."—New York Journal of Books

"Who’s in the Room? is a great guide for any leader to use in mapping out his or her advisory teams and get the company working in the same direction."—800 CEO Read

"Frisch's world view is a little unsettling. It rings true and it has a pragmatic quality that I cannot argue against. But for those who want greater accountability among their corporate leaders, it is a minefield."—Management Today

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Wisdom to Share

The number of teams should be no more than absolutely necessary to achieve de-sired outcomes.

Having a small cadre of trusted advisers in the room when each big decision is made is the way most leaders run their organizations.

The sources of the dissatisfaction or vague disappointment with the effectiveness of the senior management team (SMT) on the part of leaders and team members don’t lie in the psyche.

Each team member represents a significant constituency.

The team can focus not on smooth functioning – that’s the true realm of team building – but on finding the things it can do best.

An average executive spends anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of his or her working hours in meetings and as much as a third of that time is unproductive.

In organizations where standing committees proliferate and executives jockey for membership in as many high-profile groups as possible, meetings consume more and more time.

The solution for many companies is to learn how to have more effective meetings.

Let’s argue for eliminating as many permanent groups and committees as is feasible and replacing them with objectives-based teams.

Leaders can increase the likelihood that they will get the outcomes they are seeking by thoughtfully flexing teams along five critical dimensions: number, size, composition, is-sue ownership, and timing.