One shared value is worth a thousand rules
Everyone is 100% correct from his or her own frame of reference. If I think this is a beautiful day because the sun is shinning and there is a fresh breeze, I am right. If someone else says it is a terrible day because we are in a drought and we need moisture, that person is also right, also. The trouble is we are both right and we are confused by our disagreement.
There is a workshop exercise we use to bring this point home. After hearing a story about five fictitious characters in a problem situation, participants rank the individuals from the best to the worst. It is a forced choice decision so they cannot rank everybody good or everybody bad. They have to make a decision. Participants often ask what criteria to use for ranking the people and we tell them that is their decision. This part of the exercise is not too difficult.
In the next phase the team develops a team ranking. There are only two rules, no voting and don’t change your numbers unless you can support it. The purpose of these rules is to focus attention on the reason behind the numbers, not the numbers themselves. A team may have four people with similar rankings, but when they hear the reason the fifth person sees it differently, they see things differently, too.
This phase is surprisingly difficult and time consuming. At the start, there is a general assumption that everyone heard the story the same way, made the same assumptions, and reached the same logical conclusions. In reality, there was a wide divergence over rankings based good and bad behavior. Most of the time the team reaches an agreement that they can all live with. Occasionally, we see a hung jury, but that is rare. Once all the team scores are posted we have a general group discussion that includes all the teams in the workshop. Even when a team agreed on the rankings, we have found there were still people who strongly held to their original opinions, even though they felt they could support the team decision….
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