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Peer Review

Leadership Tools and Teams

by Deborah Ancona


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Dec 21, 2012 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This module is a self-contained MIT OpenCourseWare lab on building a leadership tool using X-teams. The focus of this particular course is a tool that can be used in the Sloan management program. The tool can be one of several types: a coaching guide, leadership workbook, workshop on networking, or leadership assessment for club presidents. It includes a syllabus, a calendar of events, selected readings, selected lecture notes and a sample PowerPoint project from a previous class. This course can be used to introduce students to leadership theory, X-teams and leadership development. While focused on the leadership model used at Sloan, the course structure could be useful to other situations.
Type of Material: Downloadable course materials for a MIT online course
Recommended Uses: This course would be best served placed near the end of a program of study, serving similarly to a capstone course in which learners are able to utilize and showcase what they have learned regarding management, operations, systems, group work, organizational principles, etc in order to work within an organizational group with the purpose of developing a ready to use tool.
Technical Requirements: Browser: worked in Firefox & IE 8. Need Microsoft PowerPoint to view the project example and Adobe Reader to view the lecture notes.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Students will be introduced to distributed leadership theory and the use of X-teams in building leadership tools. They will have hands-on experience in building a leadership tool using the X-team concept. Learner will be able to explain the stages of development associated with x-teams. Learner will be able to explain and simulate team characteristics influencing team dynamic and efficiency. Learner will be able create a system, process, or tool ready for use.
Target Student Population: Mid to high level undergraduate students and graduate students within a business management curriculum or performance management program of study
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Learners should have knowledge of management and organization principles and theories in order to be best prepared for leadership tool development.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This is great material. It is solid quality and the supporting web site is of excellent quality. This module provides a guide for an experiential course in developing leadership tools. The syllabus, course readings, timeline & lecture outlines provide enough guidance to conduct the class.
Concerns: Upon review of the course and assuming the role of a learner new to the course, I did not feel as if I had enough information to know exactly what was expected. Obtaining course materials would help in the regard, but there is not much guidance after the 2 posted lectures. Acknowledging dependence on learner knowledge and independence is well suited for the subject matter, there is little scaffolding to develop the learner throughout the process. Given, this may be remedied through classroom activities. Additionally, assessment criteria is unclear or subjective.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: For a learner familiar with related topics; leadership, performance, management, and organizations, this course will allow them to draw from their expertise and use it within a team structure for an end goal, resource development. Having students work together to create a leadership project using an X-team reinforces leadership concepts covered in the readings.
Concerns: Except for the first two lectures, the online presentation of the course (outside of a classroom and no discussion forums present), there is no continual development of the concept presented in using x-teams or the stages within; explore, exploit, export. Transistions from stage to stage are minimally discussed, explained within the parameters of the shown course structure.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The course module is easy to adapt and contains the basic course documents. Some information, like course schedule and reading is presented multiple times, leaving little room for error in what is expected when and the timeline of performance.
Concerns: The presentation of the course is minimum. There are 2 presented lectures, a basic example of the course project, and short notes on course segments. There are some gaps in what is presented, leaving the need for more interactive facilitation. It would have been helpful to have additional written notes on how the instructor conducted this class, including what worked/didn't work in terms of structure, assignments, timing, etc.

Other Issues and Comments: A good foundation is provided in relation to x-teams and resource building. Additional construction could be gained from incorporating or discussing various techniques that could be used at various stages or research strategies. An example would be a lecture/discussion regarding identifying (and possibly classifying) needs. Some examples are mentioned throughout, but a case study would help students analyze strategies as well as provide benchmarks.