Team stuff

Creative conflict

“When you’re in the trenches during a conflict, how do you know if it’s a good fight or a bad fight? Productive conflicts—what I call “good fights”—share several overarching characteristics: they honor the value of conflict; they are open, not masked; they concern ideas, not personalities; and they involve the skillful expression and management of emotion. Why do we want to generate productive conflict? Research demonstrates that organizations with constructive conflicts are more creative, productive and innovative—qualities every organization needs in today’s competitive environment. Harvard researchers, for example, found that executives with high tech companies who engaged in productive disputes generated more innovation and productivity than those with low levels of conflict.1 A plethora of additional research has come to the same conclusion.”

Approaches to creative conflict management

Designing your team

This is all from Cristina Wodtke’s article. Link at the bottom of this post.

Stage 1: Form — Designing Your Team Consciously
Think about the last team you were on. How did you start? Did you just sit down at a conference table and start discussing the project? Or did you take time to ask yourselves what kind of team you wanted to be? When you discussed the project, did you discuss logistics and deadlines, or what success looks like?”

Exercise for Team Norming

  1. Picture the best team you’ve ever been on. The one where you felt you were part of something special. Can you recall it’s characteristics? What made it so awesome? Write them down on post-its.
  2. Now picture the worst team you’ve ever been part of. You know, you wake up each morning dreading that you’ll be facing those people. What made it so dreadful? Write them down.
  3. Take a moment to stack rank your issues. Then share your top three goods and top three bads with your team.
  4. Finally, make a list of rules for your team. It should be easy to think up rules after a moment of reflection on your experiences. Call them out to the facilitator, and have them listed on a whiteboard to butcher paper — something that invites editing and updates.

    When I run this exercise, I question the “rules.” If someone says, “speak your mind.” I’ll ask,

    • What does it look like when someone “speaks their mind.”
    • Why does that rule matter?
    • How can we tell if people aren’t following the rule?
    • How do you plan to call each other out if someone violates this rule?

    The rules need to have the same meaning for all team members. I often have to get clarity around a phrase that “everyone knows what it means,” like “speak your mind.”

I’m going to need to read this article about another 15 times, I think.