One of the keys to unlocking team learning is dialogue. Once again, over time words in the English language have been used interchangeably. Discussion and dialogue are 2 of these. In this article, we differentiate these as discussion taking place in a manner of conflict, power play and imposing thoughts and decisions. Dialogue however, is the deep interaction of ideas when individuals can put assumptions, beliefs and prejudice aside and converse on concepts and ideas, discovering insights that can’t be achieved individually. These insights form the foundations for change.
Teams have been around forever, sometimes these teams perform phenomenally well at a level higher than the ability of the individual members and we popularly call this Synergy (2+2=5). Another way of looking at it is to take 2 completely different entities and combine them to form a third entity with emergent properties. An example of this is combining hydrogen (gas) and oxygen (gas) together to form water (liquid). The emergent property is wetness. Again, the result can not be achieved by the individual entities on their own. This is the fundamental property of team learning, having a collective of specialists working together achieve objectives they could never achieve on their own.
A major part of team learning is to create an environment where people can collaborate in an open and honest way without feeling threatened in any way. A very quick check on how trusting your environment is to assess exactly how much of every meeting takes place outside of the room in the passages. I am specifically talking about where problems get discussed outside and glossed over in meetings, and aren’t realised until it is too late. Compliant teams within the right environment are able to express themselves openly without fear or favour and be heard. This is the core of a learning organization and leads to optimal team performance and delivery to market, where Specialists deliver both individual excellence and team excellence.
The shared vision for the future is what will take us from our current reality to our future reality and the tension that exists between the 2 is called creative tension. The diagram gives an example of creative tension, which is a positive force pulling us towards our goal as established in our vision for the future by having the left hand move towards the right. If we allow emotional tension to prevail, the right hand will move towards the left, compromising our goals and pulling us back to current reality.
Team learning is all about alignment, a group of people functioning as a whole in an environment that is conducive to innovation and growth for the organization and the business.
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