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How to run your own “Work Check podcast” style debate (for events, online discussions)

If you want to bring a debate-style discussion to your events or forums, this article breaks down one approach to assessing a longstanding collaboration ritual or habit.

Improving the way you work requires an analysis of how you already work. Our Community’s local and digitally-connected groups already engage in this process–questioning how they approach teamwork and sparring ideas on how others do it and how they might improve. In this article, we’re sharing principles behind the Work Check podcast–how the team of producers and debaters re-evaluate popular workplace practices for the show.

For the remainder of this article, we’re featuring Pippa Johnstone, a producer on Work Check, for how she’d outline our process.



 

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First off, you need to find the question you’ll be debating; it’s trickier than you might think. Look for topics that feel relevant and relatable, easily understandable, and will foster a diversity of opinions. In other words, you don’t want to pick a topic that everyone agrees on.

Start with a giant list of ideas. 

  • What are different habits that are status quo in the way you work? What are newly formed habits? Are they working?
  • Consider even the topics you’ve heard before but might spark new ideas. Things like – how you hold standing meetings, the pace your team communicates over chat tools or email, or even areas that have been in place since before you joined a team.
  • ProTip: think about things that bug you in your day-to-day work lives – pet peeves are a great place to find debate topics, too!

Once you have a bunch of ideas, you need to whittle it down. 

The criteria we apply to our potential debate topics is:

  • Is it tangible and relatable? Try to avoid topics that feel too cerebral or heady. ProTip: look for topics that make people want to tell you their story!
  • Is this something most people can connect to on some level? Ideally, it wouldn’t just be for an exclusive few but something universal to many types of teams.
  • Avoid insular or jargon-based practices that leave people out.

Frame the debate question. 

  • In the statement or question, ensure it has two, strong, defendable sides.
  • There may be many ways to rethink a practice, but to get a conversation going, it’s often helpful to position your topic as binary: to have the practice or not. 
  • If the sides don’t feel totally even, this doesn’t rule the topic out, but if you’re looking to foster a useful debate in your team, look for a topic or a framing where you would be comfortable arguing on either side.
  • Nice-to-have consideration: does it level up to larger, broader questions about how your team is working together?

    We’re narrowing in on a specific, tangible practice to make the topic easy to engage with, but we want to make sure there’s more depth there. For example: a debate asking “should you add your coworkers on social media” might level up to a larger conversation about what ‘bringing your whole self to work’ really means for teammates and their work-life boundaries. For each of our debates, we want the conversation to really interrogate how we are working together and how we can make our work lives better.

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Once you’ve decided on the debate question, it’s time to research. Find supporting evidence to form your points.

  • The debaters on the show draw from their own experiences to start with, but it’s often useful to poll friends or communities. Sometimes we learn a lot just by asking our coworkers about their feelings on a topic! 
  • Also look at pop culture, other podcasts, or internet forums for how others perceive the practice. What are people outside of our bubble saying?
  • Consult studies. Are there scholars writing about or studying this topic? What studies can we draw from? (...and importantly, do we trust these studies – how big was their sample size, is it representative of diverse people, how were they conducted?) 
  • Play the comparison game. Is there another country or company that is approaching this practice differently? What are they doing about it, and how is that working? 

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You don't have to do all or any of these options. Hold the conversation you want to have :)

  • Feature your two debaters, the folks who have done the research and have formed opinions on specific sides. In the end, the whole group can vote and award the best way to work, the most compelling point, or even the best debater as a winner.
  • Another approach is letting everyone participate. This can be an open forum where every attendee or forum user chimes in with their ideas and replies to each other freely. Or, if colocated, divide the room into two sides where attendees walk over to the side they agree with as different attendees take to the stage with their point of view.
  • Ask everyone to share their intel for a portion of the time, and then later, ask everyone to share their final perspective after reviewing everyone’s research.

 



We hope to see your version of a “Work Check” debate either online or in person. If you get something going and have a recap or even a recording, please share it in the comments! 

Until then, please share ideas you have for debates on workplace practices. Let us know in the comments.

 

20 comments

Christine P. Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
April 11, 2023

Below are some topics we have debated on the show:

 And here are topics we’ve not debated but have thought about debating:

  • Should you lock down a Confluence page before finishing a draft?
  • Other than admins, should you give everyone on a team the same editing permissions in Jira Software?
  • Should teams retire the performance review?
  • Is the most important hiring criteria, a person’s values? 
Like # people like this
Graham Twine
Rising Star
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April 13, 2023

There are some useful tips in this I can take to the team. We have many debates :)
Some useful LOST outcomes due to a struggle of wills.

We find each year just a repeat of the last with the very same objects.

 

I am being a bit dramatic {There is always a thread of truth in every joke ;) }

Like # people like this
Summer.Hogan
Community Leader
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April 17, 2023

These are awesome tips @Christine P. Dela Rosa and I love the podcast! I also love your moderator skills! You are so great at it! This is definitely one of your superpowers! 

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Collista Lewingdon
Community Leader
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April 18, 2023

Awesome tips for podcasts! Thank you for your insight. 

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Fabio Racobaldo _Herzum_
Community Leader
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April 19, 2023

Interesting reading @Christine P. Dela Rosa ! 

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Prem April 24, 2023

Good to Join.!!

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Ditte Simard
Community Leader
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April 26, 2023

I think the "other than admins, should you give everyone on a team the same editing permissions in Jira Software?" topic will get very spicy, lol.  I would love to listen in on that one!  I know what side of the debate I would be on.......  :)

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Christine P. Dela Rosa
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
April 26, 2023

@Ditte Simard I would listen to that debate! 

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Ram Kumar Aravindakshan _Adaptavist_
Community Leader
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May 10, 2023

Thanks for the article

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Dam
Community Leader
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May 19, 2023

interesting

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Dinesh Babu June 14, 2023

Thanks for the article

Like Christine P. Dela Rosa likes this
Emily _ DevSamurai
Marketplace Partner
Marketplace Partners provide apps and integrations available on the Atlassian Marketplace that extend the power of Atlassian products.
June 25, 2023

Thanks for sharing!

Like Christine P. Dela Rosa likes this
Ram Kumar Aravindakshan _Adaptavist_
Community Leader
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June 26, 2023

Thank you for sharing @Christine P. Dela Rosa 

Like Christine P. Dela Rosa likes this
Kate Smoliakova June 28, 2023

interesting!

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Markus Fredén
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July 4, 2023

artworks-000652599220-7w6b30-t500x500

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Sayed Bares [ServiceRocket]
Community Leader
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July 6, 2023

Thanks for the tips!

Like Christine P. Dela Rosa likes this
Aaron Geister
Community Leader
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July 14, 2023

I am one for ditching daily standup because Atlas does it better! Thanks for the great info here.

Like Andy Gladstone likes this
Markku Miettunen July 27, 2023

Thank you for your insights - this is very useful :)

Sanjog Sigdel
Community Leader
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August 20, 2023

Interesting read. Thanks for the update.

Txus
Community Leader
Community Leader
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September 10, 2023

Thank you very much for these tips!!!! Very interesting.

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