Thinking Teams - Unlocking the Power of Talented Minds Working Together

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Five Ways Good Engineering Leads to Bad Mangement
The Thinking Organization
Being Rational About Irrationality
Taking Chances
A Theater of Symbols


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Thinking Teams Blog

Hive Mind

I grew up pretty independent and introspective. Maybe because of that, I had always been mystified and blown away by human artifacts and activities that I couldn't imagine wrapping my head around. As an engineer, I had learned to understand and do some pretty complicated things, but I thought those people who build corporations or cities must have a kind of intelligence I could only dream about. 

At a certain point in my career, it seemed like a good idea to figure out how to be a manager.

Another Iceberg

Whenever people come together for some purpose, communication is, of course, key to success. Our communication channels – language, looks, books, etc.  - struggle to transport what’s in my head to your head. This is particularly challenging when what’s in our heads is specialized, expert knowledge, and we have come together because we have different expertise that needs to be combined to do something complicated and hard. 

Effective communication has to clear so many hurdles it’s a wonder that it happens at all!

Apples and Oranges

The saying “that’s like comparing apples and oranges” always puzzled me a bit. It’s used to point out when two things are in such different categories they can’t really be compared, but from the perspective of the universe of all things, apples and oranges are so close they’re almost identical. I guess difference and similarity are relative, contextual, and in the eye of the beholder. (The saying would make sense to me in the context of “which tastes better?; maybe that’s how it got started.) 

The Power of Alignment

The best teams are made up of individuals who are fully engaged. When a team member is really into it, the team gets full benefit of the person's talent, and the person feels fulfilled by their participation in the team.

Full engagement requires alignment. By alignment I mean that the team members share and buy into the team's objective. I think of team alignment as happening at three levels

  • Team leadership holds the vision around which the team aligns
  • Team members co-create their roles in realizing the team vision

The Committee in Your Head

Committees are infamous for getting in their own way – lack of focus, conflicts, dominators, wall flowers. But it doesn't take two to tango – modern neuroscience shows us that each of our brains functions very much like a committee. (Professor Michael Gazzaniga of University of California addresses this in an interesting series of lectures available on-line:

Launching Thinking Teams Blog

Welcome to the Thinking Teams Blog! Here we will talk about the opportunities and challenges that present themselves when great minds gather for a purpose.

Just like the quests they undertake, great minds are multifaceted and complicated. Teams come together over touch-points of common understanding and purpose, yet there is always more to it. Human expertise, and many of our complex enterprises, defy our ability to perfectly understand, predict, or control. This can lead to frustration, failure, fistfights.
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