Managing the Thinking Team

Teams are now the primary force of organisations.  They are worth cultivating at their core.  Their core is the mind of each team member.

Team effectiveness depends on the calibre of thinking the team can do.  When teams know how to meet as a Thinking Environment and how to exchange ideas one to one in this way, when they know how, in other words, to keep each other thinking all the time, they perform at increasingly high levels.

LightbulbThe most powerful vehicle for team thinking is the team meeting.  Managers who run meetings in this way are virtually certain to raise the quality of the team’s performance.

Knowing how to manage a thinking team is fundamental to building tomorrow’s successful organisation.

Giving everyone a turn increases the intelligence of groups.  

Chairing brilliant meetings

As team leader or manager or chair of a meeting, consider following these nine simple guidelines:

  1. Give everyone a turn to speak
  2. Ask everyone to say what is going well in their work, or in the group’s work
  3. Give attention without interruption during open and even fiery discussion
  4. Ask Incisive Questions to reveal and remove assumptions that are limiting ideas
  5. Divide into Thinking Partnerships when thinking stalls and give each person five minutes to think out loud without interruption
  6. Go round intermittently to give everyone a turn to say what they think
  7. Permit also the sharing of truth and information
  8. Permit the expression of feelings
  9. Ask everyone what they thought went well in the meeting and what they respect in each other

When you are bold enough to do even one of these things, the quality of thinking in the meeting rises.  Meetings with all nine guidelines in place have been described by some participants as superb.

Leaders create.  A creator’s best tool is a Thinking Environment.  Without it, leaders fall back into ticking the list.

Source: Kline, N. (1998) Time to think: listening to ignite the human mind. London: Cassell Illustrated.