Loomio software is a collaborative decision-making tool that fits well into the concept of Free Flow Management. Loomio “enables more transparency and inclusion in decision-making with fewer meetings and e mails”. Its online platform facilitates gathering people, on-topic conversations, visual summaries and clear outcomes.
How does your organization make decisions? Would you say your decisions flow freely or are you bogged down in meetings and email? Our new methods of communication have their advantages, but we do get bogged down with them. New decision-making approaches are called for. It is time well spent for your organization to look at the efficiency and flow of your decision-making and find innovative ways to keep your programs and processes flowing smoothly.
As a society, we have done a lot of work on developing and improving how we work in teams. What if we add to the definition of a good team, minimizing the drama? We have come far in recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence and collaboration. There is still work to be done to lessen the stress and dissonance resulting from interpersonal conflict.
The drama experienced in teams often derives from individuals’ emotional makeup and perspectives. Root causes are not usually pursued. Rather, we attribute conflict to superficial causes and stop there.
We do not have the luxury of bringing group therapy into our team activities, but we can do some things to minimize drama and conflict. When a team is formed, why not recognize the potential for drama and set some guidelines to minimize it? Examples may be: emphasizing the importance of each member’s emotional intelligence, having structures to immediately deal with and resolve interpersonal conflicts or establishing zero tolerance of bullies, unrestricted anger, psychological games or unhealthy competition.
Drama has always been present in teams. Let’s bring it out in the open and deal with it. We will see positive results quickly, leading to happy and productive team members.
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Collaboration is not the easiest means of managing and decision-making. However, it is the most effective. The best collaborations give all members a full seat at the table. Each person’s voice is heard and respected, disagreements are fully aired and considered and when decisions are made, they are made for the betterment of the collaboration, not just of one or more individuals.
This model can work. People, generally, are reasonable and rational and know that not every decision can go in their favor. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it is worth it. Trouble comes in when organizations go hierarchical and dictatorial in their decision-making. Or, when a sub-group, such as younger people, is disregarded. Some feel that because young people do not have the years of experience that older members have, they do not need to be listened to. They should have a full seat at the table and be valued for the unique insight, fresh ideas and enthusiasm they bring to a group.
Next time you are collaborating, give each team member a full seat at the table. You will reap the benefits of better decision-making, happier team members and creative and long-lasting results.
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Last week The New York Times published an article, What Google Learned From Its Quest To Build The Perfect Team. Traditional team research has looked at the patterns relating to the people in a team. However, Google could not find any patterns relating to the people or personalities involved in its most effective teams – the “who” part did not seem to matter. Instead, group norms (behavioral standards and unwritten rules of the teams) did matter.
The article references a study published last month in The Harvard Business Review that time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more – how well you and your organization work in teams matters.
What do you think are the behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern your teams? Which ones are effective and which ones are destructive? It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to the intended or unintended group norms of your teams. By doing so, you can establish the ones that work best and let go of those that hinder your collaborations.
Liking the people you work with is not mandatory for a successful career. However if you do like them, you have a better chance of success in your work. What do I mean by “like”? I mean having a level of professional compatibility that allows you to thrive in a team. This creates conditions that foster your success. If you like your co-workers as people, then you can add fun and enjoyment to the mix.
This is not a pie-in-the-sky concept. If you do not like the people you work with, your working conditions are less than optimal. You may find yourself irritated, less productive and discouraged. A positive workplace lets you thrive and move forward.
Do you like the people you work with?
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There are many ways we can co-create – working with others on a project, being part of a collaboration, seeking muses or sharing a mutual goal with others. The best co-creating is when you choose to do so because the involvement of others will enhance your creativity, performance and end result.
Do you consciously co-create with others? Are conditions in your career right for you to do so? As the world moves forward, co-creating will be a powerful means of doing your best.
What has been your experience with co-creating?
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In my previous posts on Free Flow Management we’ve looked at letting go of structure and visioning. With the freedom involved in free flow management, what happens when collaboration is required and team dynamics come into play? Perhaps one team member’s flow is in one direction and another team member’s flow is in the opposite one. For example, one team member needs quiet and open space to create effectively, while another needs group brainstorming.
There are no set answers to how best to integrate free flow management with collaborative projects. One approach is to allow collaboration to slightly trump the free flow. Using a free flow approach, work with the team to create a process for working together. The starting point is honoring the aspects of each person’s free flow. Then, you can move to a team discussion (with no wrong answers) on how to proceed with the project. Even within free flow, there is a need for some structure. The key is to allow the structure to evolve organically, depending on the particulars of each situation.
If there is power in numbers, collaborative free flow management can result in innovative and effective results for you and your team.
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Do you create and encourage synergy in your team? Doing so enhances your team’s performance and creates wins all around. Synergy is defined as:
1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that the combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
2. Cooperative interaction among groups that creates an enhanced combined effect.
You hear a lot about collaboration and teamwork, but changing the perspective ever so slightly to synergy takes you beyond process to results.
Team synergy can be enhanced in a number of ways, requiring some focus on your part as a manager. You can start by looking at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team member in light of the work you have to get done. Then, it gets interesting as you analyze who can pair together to enhance strengths and compensate for weaknesses. Here, there are multiple factors: team members’ willingness and ability to collaborate, time factors – will the results be worth possible slow starts as team members acclimate to this focus – and whether a project is set up to accommodate collaboration.
Using synergy to enhance your team’s performance asks a lot of you. Your emotional intelligence and analytical abilities will be front and center. You may have a few false starts. Team members may need some coaching to get going. In my opinion, it is worth a try – for the potential improved results and for the strengthening of your team.
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Both communication and collaboration get a lot of attention when you work in teams. What happens when you bring them together – is there a particular way to communicate within teams that enhances collaboration? The nature of communication within a team is inherently different from one-on-one communication.
What could be guidelines for collaborative communication within your team? First would be the acknowledgement, by all team members, that they each have a voice that matters. That is a value that will generate respect for, and support the dignity of, each individual. Another may be identifying the methods you will use to assure that what needs to be communicated will be – possibly through staff meetings, reports, written and oral communication. Focus is needed on how the team communicates – choice of words, body language, emotional intelligence, what is communicated to whom. Communication should reflect respect for the diversity of the team – taking that into consideration, as each team member communicates.
Collaboration is something that takes effort- communication within a collaboration deserves that effort as well. How is the collaboration communication within your team?
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Someone once advised me to live life as an arrow, not a target. In your managing, do you have a clear sense of where you and your team are going? Having a destination in mind allows you to focus and align your and your team’s energy in a common direction.
Goals help you do this, but it takes more than goals. You have to address the journey that will get you to your goals. The journey is comprised of plans, communication, resources, course changes, collaboration and periodic reassessment.
Take a moment to answer the question “Where are you going?” Is your answer a clear one? Would your team offer the same answer? The next question is “What are you doing to get there?” Is the path to your destination laid out clearly, with buy-in from your team?
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
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