QUESTION:

“How do you deal with the fact that time often gets in the way of fully exploring cognitive diversity—or the fact that sometimes you simply don’t have time to make decisions using the Dream Teams principles?”

GUIDANCE:

The enemy to breakthrough collaboration is often NOT unwilling people; it’s often TIME itself.

  • Debates often end when the allotted time is up, not when the issue is fully explored.

  • Decisions often are made when the deadline approaches, not when the best solution is discovered.

  • Sometimes we simply don’t have enough time to explore the whole mountain, so we have to do our best.

  • It helps to break down what we’re working on into one of three categories, and manage our “team” accordingly:

  1. Critical challenges for which you need truly novel, even breakthrough, solutions:

    • These types of problems require us to take as much time as we can to a) collect cognitively diverse inputs, b) debate and explore the mountain range for better solutions, and c) exercise the intellectual humility to respect what we don’t understand, let go of our egos, and revise our viewpoints.

    • These kinds of problems should not be resolved just when the clock is up—unless we are willing to compromise on the quality of the solutions we are after.

  2. Important challenges for which speed is necessary, but innovation and creativity are still wanted:

    • These types of problems are best handled by cognitively diverse groups of people who “roll” well together.

    • These teams need a strong sense of purpose and high trust in intentions, so they can engage in cognitive friction on the fly without second-guessing whether everyone is on their team.

    • These teams can get away with having more in common than others, because trust in intentions needs to be high. But this is the kind of team that can get the most out of up-front training on Intellectual Humility, ongoing team bonding, and micro-inclusions so they can continue to roll.

    • Be mindful that these kinds of teams still need outside cognitive diversity injected from time to time. It pays to bring in outsiders, expose the team to new perspectives, and adjust the membership of the team from time to time to keep them in The Zone.

  3. Routine challenges for which speed and efficiency is a higher priority than innovation:

    • In these cases, you want a team that rolls well together and is unified, but doesn’t need a lot of cognitive friction to do whatever it is you need to do.

    • But a warning: having cognitive diversity in this team—even if it is not being tapped into often—is still good. When problems arise, having different perspectives and heuristics on hand will always be helpful.

    • And having visible and demographic diversity on this team will help everyone to engage at a more full cognitive level, as we learned in Part I of this course. (We all think a little more critically when we can’t just assume that everyone in the group sees things just like us.) And this also is a morally good thing to do anyway.

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