Behavioral Sciences and practical experience make a strong case for the problem-solving effectiveness of groups comprised of teammates with diverse cognitive behaviors; but, it doesn’t end there. Building teams that have a mix of problem-solving approaches, without maintaining an environment that leverages it, will waste a valuable asset.
In this Harvard Business Review piece, The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams from Alison Reynolds and David Lewis, the importance of a psychologically safe environment is illuminated.
For some, the terminology may be cringe-worthy. “Psychologically safe”, should not be confused with the dispensing of accountability or a lack of results-orientation. In our practice, we help organizations achieve their potential by embracing accountability and focusing on results. Those attributes have their place and are mission critical. In this context, “safety” is fostered, for example, by treating mistakes with intellectual curiosity and shared responsibility for the outcomes. After all, there is a profound difference between a bad outcome and a bad idea.
The authors paint a useful picture of groups that possess both a high degree of cognitive diversity and a high degree of psychological safety. Let us know how these principles have affected teams in your professional experience. What characteristics were present in your most effective problem-solving groups?