April 13, 2016 Shake Up Your Teams – Add Diverse Thinkers to Tackle Disruption
If you’re going for real change, “right now” critical change, you need breakthrough thinking. If you base all your decisions on experience to date and assign transformation to people who think the same way, you really can’t expect revolutionary ideas.
As leaders, we try our best to ensure success. Often we have an unconscious bias related to past experience. We think we know all too well what will or won’t work. This eliminates significant parts of potential solutions. We just don’t consider them. The big opportunity is to try something different at the outset of critical change – to get way outside our comfort zones. This begins with confronting our biases after asking the question, “How could this work?”
Trying to stay in our ensure success comfort zone, we put people together who we’ve learned can “get it done.” It feels like a smart way to manage risk. We assign known teams, people who can finish each others’ sentences. We set objectives and tell them to keep us in the loop. But teams who’ve worked together for years may not find unique, adaptive solutions. Collectively they may have confining biases or aversion to risk.
It takes confidence to assemble an all new team, and courage to mix individual eccentricities and strengths. You need insight and intuition on personalities and how people think. You try to imagine how, even with some interpersonal conflict, or because of that tension, a diverse team might bring something special. Not everyone on the program needs to have been down the road together, or even in the business that long. You can be wrong when you pick the players – that happens. And it requires patience. Team dynamics do not develop overnight. A critical combination of structure and relationships leads to high functioning teams.
If your intuition says a certain combination of people will make magic together and find a new way, go with it. Ultimately it’s about the energy and new ideas they discover as they find their way together. An ambitiously assembled team can have results far beyond what we predict. There are risks, but the gains can be huge.
“Research has shown that teams and groups made up of people with varying backgrounds and
perspectives are likely to make consistently better decisions and execute them more effectively.”
— Beyond Bias, by Heidi Grant Halvorson and David Rock