Working in Teams

13 April
2017

At any company where small scrum teams operate, the typical buzzwords are teamwork, collaboration, commitment, cross-functional, and self-managed. (Bleh!, buzzwords.) But what about tension, disagreement, conflict, and debate?

From this article, 'If Your Team Agrees on Everything, Working Together Is Pointless:'

Team members collaborate on a site design

"What we need is collaboration where tension, disagreement, and conflict improve the value of the ideas, expose the risks inherent in the plan, and lead to enhanced trust among the participants. It’s time to change your mindset about conflict. Let go of the idea that all conflict is destructive, and embrace the idea that productive conflict creates value. If you think beyond the trite clichés, it’s obvious: Collaborating is unnecessary if you agree on everything. Building on one another’s ideas only gets you incremental thinking. If you avoid disagreeing, you leave faulty assumptions unexposed."

Debate is important, healthy, needed. Now, I'm not saying that you should go into all your standups, grooming sessions, and retrospectives ready for battle, ready to pounce on the first thing you disagree with. There's still a grace to introducing disagreement and starting a healthy debate on a topic.

After years of intensive analysis, Google discovered the key to good teamwork: being nice! And that involves the concept of “psychological safety,” a model of teamwork in which members have a shared belief that it is safe to take risks and share a range of ideas without the fear of being humiliated.

"Google’s data-driven approach ended up highlighting what leaders in the business world have known for a while; the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another."

Wait, I have to be nice to everybody I work with? Yes, you still need to be respectful, empathetic, and start with "the benefit of the doubt" in mind. Which is important because, 'The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important.'

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