The lead article in the March-April (2017) Harvard Business Review reads like a promotion for our MG RUSH Professional Leadership, Facilitation, and Methodology training. The principal recommendations in Johnson and Christfort’s article, The New Science of Teamwork, have been a mainstay in our curriculum for over ten years now. With the research they amassed to support their thesis, our curriculum has become more valid than ever.
The New Science of Teamwork Personality Styles
First, they substitute the following four styles for similar styles found in Myers-Briggs, DISC, E-Colors, and others with:
You should read the article to develop a richer understanding of the similarities and differences to other personality typing methods you know about. Our article follows their assumption, conclusions, and recommendations—plus a few they are missing.
Their assumption, a valid one, suggests that most teams fall short of their potential. They even find that dysfunction may cause some teams to regress rather than progress their organization. They suggest fostering “productive friction” which puts the term ‘argument’ in its proper and positive connotation.
Not surprisingly they find that cognitive diversity and a blending of all the styles will yield the highest quality decisions and group outputs. Further, their conclusions primarily suggest to:
- Pull opposite types closer together, and
- Seek input from people with non-dominant styles, paying attention to sensitive introverts.
For more than a decade we have been major promoters of “healthy dissent”. Their specific recommendations echo our own. However, they are missing a few important tips when leveraging personality types in a meeting or workshop environment.
The New Science of Teamwork Recommendations
For Guardians and Integrators (the two non-dominant styles) they suggest identical methods found in our curriculum such as (listed in the sequence found in their article):
- Allowing them more time to respond.
- Changing the group perspective to focus on input from the point-of-view found in the lens of Guardians and
- Encouraging non-dominant styles to contribute early (NOTE: We recommend that you always call on your virtual participants first, before allowing your in-person people to speak).
- Encouraging the use of whiteboards (or easels) to depersonalize their input.
- Keeping the pace brisk, but allowing time for non-dominant styles to consider the supporting details (eg, separate ideation from analysis).
- Paying closer attention to introverts, who may be rarely heard.
- Relying on them to show up better prepared and thoroughly read with supporting details than typically found with the dominant types of Pioneers and Drivers.
- Requesting their input in advance.
- Securing their input in writing, rather than audibly.
- Using round-robin and brainstorming tools to gather ideas without judgment.
The New Science of Teamwork Omissions
They missed some tips particularly relevant to conducting more effective meetings. Some additional suggestions that ought to be embraced by readers include the following (also found in the MG RUSH curriculum), namely:
- Interviewing participants in advance to emphasize the role of the facilitator is to protect the people in the meeting, giving them additional comfort to speak up.
- Establishing in advance that titles should be kept in the hallway and that all participant voices will be treated as equal, regardless of title and rank outside the meeting room.
- Pointing out in advance certain topics or questions where you, as meeting leader, expect them to take the lead based on their personal expertise.
- Never call on people by name (except virtual participants), rather beseech them nonverbally and always give anyone the opportunity at any time to say “pass” and save face.
- Most importantly, use smaller breakout teams and sessions more frequently, especially when ideating and capturing ideas (without judgment). Assuredly, introverted people are more comfortable speaking within a small group than toward a large group.
Their personality profiles are summarized effectively on page 57 of the article with an overview of the style factors and what both energizes and alienates each style. Give it a read if you want to get more productivity out of your groups and teams. Their discovery is old news for MG RUSH alumni but remains extremely valid if you want to become a more effective facilitator.
Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)
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