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[Teamwork Musings] Team Consciousness can combat teams defaulting to transaction mode


The concept: "Team Consciousness"

Teamwork is way more than the transactional conversations between teammates. Yes, we each have expertise and roles that require information exchanges. But sometimes (especially for teams that move from colocated to remote spaces, for teams that increase in size to the point of not being able to know everyone as much as we'd like, for teams that become more distributed and increase in diversity of opinion, perspective, or cultural norms), we can get caught up just in the transactional state.

I think we need to slow things down. We need more understanding. We need to observe, question, and then, act. And if that concept is embraced, teams would perpetually seek to understand where they’re at before engaging with each other.

In a world increasingly focused on transactional communication, we can remind teams that humanity and understanding is at the core of effective and healthy teamwork.

This would make decision-making, on a micro-level, more intentional. 


A set of guiding questions

If the overlooked part of teamwork is about getting the right context, perhaps the right mindset to have is: asking the right questions based on the right information, to move work in the right direction. 


1 - Do you have shared meaning from the information?
  • Do you have the same understanding of the information as the person who provided it? What about another person receiving the information?
  • Shared meaning on a team is sharing IQ. And sharing IQ makes the team one organism, one group informed by the same information.
  • Shared meaning also begets idea sparring with more relevant contributions, idea-building with momentum, etc.


2 - Once you understand the information, what type of information do you have in front of you?
  • Information that requires further analysis?

  • Information that requires problem-solving?

  • Information that needs dissemination?


3 - Once you know what kind of information you have, do you have a sense of those (not just in name) who need to be involved?

  • Starting point

    • Notice where teammates are in their workload and where this fits in.

    • Notice where teammates are in their investment to this work.

    • Notice where teammates are in their perceived importance to this role.

  • Once you start engaging with the right teammates using the right next step for the information, does how everyone is reacting align with what you think makes sense?

    • Notice how teammates react to your engagement.

    • Notice how teammates react when you give them space vs lean in.


If individuals take notice of the state of their teammates, what is most important to do in the moment, and who should be involved, I think teams will naturally be more in sync and make better decisions. 


@Christine P_ Dela RosaI really like this post! It's interesting to see some of my thoughts about how we collaborate as colleagues expressed in words.

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Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Mar 01, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa Thanks for sharing this wonderful and thoughtful concept of "Team Consciousness".

I think that whether the teams are colocated or distributed, whether they communicate in-person or virtually, the understanding of the context of a problem or request from a team or teammate as well as the environment/context/background of the team or teammate, are very important for an individual to make well-informed and contextual decisions or actions towards solving the problem or servicing the request.

If we don't pay attention to the contexts of problem information and state/role of teammates, it will lead to wrong decisions or actions that will need rework (and hence time and cost) in order to revert their undesired effects.

Every team and its members should practice this concept of "Team Consciousness" in their day-to-day work to improve teamwork and collaboration. 

Like # people like this

Thanks so much for this musing, @Christine P_ Dela Rosa
To address the third point about knowing who needs to be involved: In our company, we've had a big turnover since 2020. Many of the newer people don't know those who've been here for awhile and aren't familiar with their expertise and what they can contribute. So it's important to find out who your possible resources are by asking and not just using the limited group of people you know. 
(In my case, we brought in a new CTO who is not familiar with my background and what I can contribute, so I end up being greatly underutilized.) 

Once you've identified those who should be involved, you need to be able to allocate those resources appropriately. Many times we see work being additive - piling more and more on people - instead of distributive by properly allocating resources. 

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Hi @Christine P_ Dela Rosa,

Your introduction, and then specifically the part about decision making, reminded me of this image representing the decision tree:


The happiest workers I know feel empowered to take responsibility over their work. We hire smart people not to tell them what to do, but to make our teams stronger by tapping into their creativity and cleverness. By letting them bring their own unique perspectives to the table.

At the same time, it is exactly because every individual brings this unique perspective to the table that taking the time to build shared understanding of our challenges is so important. As we sometimes quote: don't argue about the solution, rather agree on the problem that needs solving.

Like # people like this
Tuncay Senturk Community Leader Mar 02, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa I liked this musing, many thanks indeed. I'm also happy that I'm not alone with some of my thoughts. Especially the new normals (remote working) bring some problems. 

@Walter Buggenhout _ACA IT_ I also loved the quote: don't argue about the solution, rather agree on the problem that needs solving.


Like # people like this
nina_schmidt Community Leader Mar 03, 2022

Thank you @Christine P_ Dela Rosa  for summing this up. I can relate 100% to that.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa thank you for the musing. As a scrum master, this is pertinent to me. I am going to mull on this and return to this in a couple of days.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Y'all have really affirmed different parts of this musing for me. It's interesting to know which parts of this resonated more than others but that overall it's the idea of taking note of who is involved, making sure there's true and shared understanding of what needs to happen, and simply understanding context goes a long way.

As for this round of the March Musing giveaway, @Taranjeet Singhyou are the winner! I'll directly reach out to get your reward details :)

Like Taranjeet Singh likes this


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