This is from the May Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the May edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Charles Pellerin’s book How NASA Builds Teams. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation


How NASA Builds Teams

Author: Charles J. Pellerin, Jr.

Publisher: Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009, 288 pages. ISBN: 978-0470456484

Also available in Kindle format (B002EBDOXS).


Charles Pellerin learned powerful lessons from his failure experience leading the team that launched the Hubble telescope only to discover it didn’t work because of a flawed mirror. He leveraged that learning to oversee the mission that corrected the mistake. How NASA Builds Teams makes the transferable principles of the 4-D system developed by Pellerin accessible to everyone. The book’s companion web site provides free access to powerful tools including a behavioral assessment to help your team and the individual members understand each other as well as measure the key driver of team performance, the social context.

 Best chapter

Chapter: 2 – Managing Social Context Manages Technical Performance

“The core idea in this book is that social contexts drive our behaviors, and hence drive a…team’s ability to perform or not.” (pg. 9) The framework for understanding and evaluating the social context of a team is the AMBR process: What you pay Attention to combines with your Mindsets, influences your Behaviors and produces the Results you realize. Research shows the lack of performance in the workplace is four times more likely to be caused by environmental than individual factors (pg. 12). Once individuals have the essential skills required to do their job, training them in anything but context management is a waste of money (pg. 12).

Best quotes

“On average, we spend 12 percent of our time thinking about what could be that has not yet happened.” (pg. 19)

“We can never prove a law of physics. All we can do is apply laws and fail to disprove them in enough applications that we have faith in their predictive powers.” (pg. 26)

“Where attention goes, there power flows.” (pg. 30)

“Normalization of deviance occurs when deviant behavior becomes normal in the local context.” (pg. 33)

“Some of my friends are for it. Some of my friends are against it. I’m for my friends.” (Quoting Dwight Eisenhower, pg. 77)

“In the simplest terms, project and program managers trade cost, performance, and schedule within an envelope of acceptable risk.” (pg. 111)

“Stories formed from words and then expressed, are your most powerful means of influencing others. From the Gospel according to John, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and, the Word was with God, and the Word was God’” (pg. 126)

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” (Quoting Carl W. Buechner, pg. 141)

“…we only feel deep appreciation when someone appreciates us for something we valued about ourselves.” (pg. 155)

“Ingratitude is always a form of weakness. I have never known a man of real ability to be ungrateful.” (pg. Quoting Goethe, pg. 156)

“The way to experience abundance is to run the story-line that ‘I have enough, so I can give things away.’” (pg. 164)

“We are most comfortable with people who want for us, the things we want for ourselves. What do they want that I can want for them also?” (pg. 167)

“Effective inclusion begins by adopting the mindset that inclusion matters, then paying attention to how you include others or fail to include others. In simple terms, inclusion is about how we delegate power and share information and rewards.” (pg. 181)

“We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.” (pg. 189)

“Here is the difficulty with problem solving. Too many problems have mutually exclusive solutions. Learn to look for this characteristic and replace problem focus with creativity.” (pg. 195)

“Once you assume responsibility for your complaints, you have two choices 1) turn your complaint into a request, or 2) forget about it.” (pg. 219)

Best illustration

“Redford Williams, MD, performed a fascinating experiment. When he was in medical school, he gave his fellow students a test to measure their tendency to be hostile. He then followed their lives watching who died when. Here is what he found: ‘Those with high scores on a test of hostility…were seven times as likely to have died by the age of fifty as those with low hostility scores. Being prone to anger was a stronger predictor of dying young than smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.’” (pg. 229)

File under: hostility, anger, quality of life

 Best idea

Context is shaped in part by the story-lines we choose to believe. We all have thoughts that we express to others (and ourselves). These expressions powerfully influence behaviors. They are not expressions of truth but our perception. What really matters is the context our story-lines create for our teammates and ourselves. We can choose a set of story-lines that create high-performance contexts or low-performance contexts.

 Best take away

The author has created a robust menu of assessments and tools available for free at They are powerful but would require engaging the content of the book to fully apply.


Explore the 4-D System by way of the web site and watch the videos that overview the content.


Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

Title Signature