Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sour grapes.

I was working with a group of course-participants the other day and they were given a (relatively) complicated task to solve. Not job-related, so really no problem if it wasn't solved. Blindfolded, so they had to rely on other senses than eye-sight. They were not given a deadline or timing, but we – the facilitators – decided that we would stop the activity after 30 minutes – regardless of whether they had achieved the goal or not.

23 people sitting in a circle without being able to see each other. It was very chaotic and unstructured – as expected – lots of laughter, but also frustration, some checked out, some got angry, some got shut down – everything you would expect.

“Miraculously” – after 29:30 they had solved the task! YAY! Impressive and amazing. And they were not happy. Why?

During the debrief it was very clear that they realized that they hadn’t brought along the whole group. Some of the people were shut down – and was not “brought along” in the solution. These people were sad or mad and would probably in a real situation NOT been able to contribute to the implementation. Just to be clear: This was not team members that the team would want to get rid of – it was top performers.

So the questions are: Are you willing to sacrifice team members for a task? When do you choose to make the task more important than the people? Do you want to make sure that you have buy-in from your team? What is the long-term cost of shutting people off?

No easy answers – just more for you to reflect on.

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