Team breakthroughs require a combination of skill and expertise,  constructive interpersonal behaviour and systems thinking.

How big the breakthrough is depends on the quality of the decision, multiplied by the degree to which the decision is accepted by those who must implement it.  Quality and Acceptance is brought about through consensus decision making.

Skill and expertise of participants:

Before a Team can develop a breakthrough solution it must have people who have knowledge and intuition about the problem at hand. Usually, it is the people who are closest to the problem that will have the necessary knowledge, intuition and experience.

Once you have the right people (or access to them) a breakthrough relies on them achieving consensus.  True consensus decision making requires constructive inter-personal behaviour amongst the participants and rational thinking processes.

Constructive inter-personal behaviour:

How a team of people behave toward each other will determine the level of synergy between them.  The higher the synergy the more likely that the team will achieve consensus and deliver a breakthrough result.

There are many ways to teach a team the skills required for constructive inter-personal behaviour.  Workshops usually involve training in listening skills, how to support each other, how to differ with others and the keys to participation.

However, in adult learning, the most effective way to teach constructive inter-personal behaviour is through experiential learning rather than training.  A combination of two types of tools can create that experience.  The first is through fun simulations where many of the external variables that normally impact team dynamics can be controlled.  The second is using a behavioural assessment that enables the team to see for themselves the styles or patterns of behaviour that they adopt when trying to solve problems.

Once a team understands their behaviour styles they are in a position to identify, initiate and implement changes to improve the amount of constructive inter-personal behaviour and synergy that occurs.  Note: Facilitating a team to develop a plan to improve their inter-personal behaviours is an excellent means to introduce systems thinking as well.

Systems Thinking Processes:

Systems Thinking brings logical “thinking tools” to a team meeting. They can be used in standalone situations, or together they can form a coherent problem-solving and change management system. Their purpose is to translate peoples intuition into a format that can be discussed rationally, questioned without offence, and modified to more fully reflect the understanding of the situation.

They are also used to facilitate communication, collaboration, and consensus among those that must be involved in its resolution.  This is perfect for bringing a group to consensus and breakthrough solutions.

Interest Based Problem Solving (IBPS) and the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes (TOC TP) are both forms of systems thinking I use.  Together, they are learnable and repeatable ways for teams to efficiently solve complex problems within a team setting.

With practice and experience teams can apply these methodologies and find breakthroughs by themselves without the need for external facilitation.  This means constant breakthroughs in performance.

In summary:

In summary, if your team shares their knowledge through constructive inter-personal behaviour and applies systems thinking to their problem solving they will be able to achieve a consensus that ensures both the quality and the acceptance of a solution.  That also means fast implementation.

This is a recipe for breakthrough results.

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