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Archives For Productivity
How clear is your team on its purpose? Can everyone clearly name the audience(s) you seek to serve? What are the most important results that you must deliver? How clear are you, as a team?
You might be surprised.
It’s one thing to have everyone repeat a vision statement. It’s another when an outsider drops in and asks some clarity questions: What exactly is your team trying to accomplish? For whom? How will you know if you’re successful?
This week the digital strategies team I lead had two different experts drop in for one-hour chat sessions; Mike on Tuesday, Steve on Wednesday. Both are friends of the ministry and leaders of their own companies. Without prompting from me, both of them asked the clarity questions. Both days generated some great discussion. Our team is less than a year old. We do have two primary audiences that we seek to serve, which creates some tension and confusion when allocating scarce time and resources. We’re also in startup phase in the digital environment, so our work involves many new projects, rapid failure/learning cycles, and a lot of iteration. Our larger organization is over 60 years old, continues to maintain a lot of aging initiatives and projects, and has a much longer iteration/change cycle. So, as Steve put it, we’re like a startup company with a tiny office on one deck of the Queen Elizabeth II.
As team leader, I felt tempted to brush off Mike’s and Steve’s penetrating questions with some trite, canned responses. But that wouldn’t help us fulfill our purpose. I needed to share leadership for the session with outsiders and allow them to exert influence (= leadership) on us. Lesson for me: Don’t fear being humbled and helped by friends who come with fresh perspective on our team processes and products. More clarity helps everyone be more fruitful.
How clear is your team on its purpose, audience(s) and outcomes? Are you sure about that?
Groupthink can be a killer.
At a conference I’m attending we had a group synergy exercise. The facilitator broke us into groups of 6-10 people, then read us this scenario:
You are the only survivors of a plane crash. It’s January and you are somewhere in the Canadian Rockies. Daytime temps are 25 below zero; nighttime temps are 40 below zero. You are all dressed in business attire. Here is a list of 12 items you were able to salvage from the wreckage. Rank the items as needed, 1 to 12. Your survival depends on it!
We had a few minutes to rank the items personally, in silence. Then we were given 15 minutes to come together as a group, determine our survival strategy, and rank the items as a group.
My team’s strategy was to try to make it to the nearest town, about 30 km away. We prioritized our items.
After time was up, the first question the facilitator asked was how many of our teams would try to make it to the town, or would send one or two people to the town? Our team raised our hands. “You’re all dead.”
At the end of the time, the facilitator compared our personal rankings, group rankings and survival expert ratings. Apparently 26% of individuals score better than their teams, and 50% of teams score better than their smartest individual. Not so in our case. Several of my teammates (including me) scored better as individuals. We all would have survived if we hadn’t gotten sucked into groupthink under pressure.
In real life, we know teams tend to work well. I’m a strong believer in teamwork. However, there are times when It might be wise to give individuals a little bit of time and space to come up with great ideas on their own before forging a wonderfully mediocre, if not deadly, plan.
How might your team be getting sucked in to groupthink?