Teamwork makes the dream work is likely a phrase you’ve heard before or used if you’re proudly cheesy like us at Overlap. It’s also true.

We all have different life experiences that makeup who we are, and therefore different perspectives that enable us to approach challenges in unique ways. More heads together equal more brilliance. 

So, if teamwork is such an advantage, why don’t we focus on doing it more and doing it better? Probably, because our different life experiences and perspectives don’t always align. It’s a lot easier to get focused on the next best technology, or strategy that will help us do our work better. It can take a lot of time and energy to sort out our misalignment—or dare I say conflict!

Trust is essential and conflict is healthy

Great teams trust each other, and they aren’t afraid of conflict. Good, healthy conflict requires a foundation of trust. People won’t be honest if they don’t first feel seen, heard, and respected for who they are as an individual. We have to find ways to be together in an honest way and we have to co-create the conditions to speak our truth in constructive ways.

I like Patrick Lencioni’s take on teamwork makes the dream work. “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” Our greatest advantage—teamwork—can often be the source of our greatest challenge. So, we need to find ways to co-create the conditions for trust and conflict.  

Prototype to co-create solutions

At Overlap, we love prototyping—because it’s fun! Also, because it’s a way to co-create early, tangible versions of ideas.  You could start by bringing your team together to explore possible ideas for building trust and creating space for constructive conflict. A prototype could take the shape of team agreements, or new ways of working together.

  1. Start solo and have each team member write down their own ideas—to avoid getting stuck on the first idea that someone says out loud.
  2. Share your ideas and start to talk about what you could make together. Pipe cleaners, playdough, markers, glue, and construction paper are great tools for making stuff. You might encourage the team to think about how they could represent their ideas as a sketch, a storyboard, a roleplay, a drawing, or a concept map.  
  3. When you’re done, present your prototypes, share feedback, and talk about which ones you might like to test out as a team.
  4. After a couple of weeks, be sure to come back to reflect on what’s working well, what could be improved, what questions have come up, or any new ideas that might have surfaced.

It’s never one and done

It’s going to be key to keep coming back. Building the conditions for trust and conflict will not be a one and done occasion. You might even want to consider asking for help. It can be tough to facilitate with a team you’re on, or from within an organization. Third-party facilitators bring an unbiased lens that helps to unearth new insights, keep your team on track, and support difficult conversations.

Finance, strategy, and technology are important elements of building a strong organization. The problem is, this triple threat won’t get you a healthy organization. Consider bringing your team together to co-create solutions for building trust and embracing conflict at work. How can you use prototyping to build team trust and embrace conflict?

We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out with your comments, ideas, or let us know if we can help.