Conflicts and Silos and Teams, oh my!!!

April 6, 2016 / by Lori

Collaborative teams get more done and have more fun, so how do we take the “Dys-” out of Cross-functional teams?

From startups to the Fortune 500, the first factor for selecting team members is almost always functional expertise. Makes sense…that’s why they’re cross-functional teams. The problem is when that’s the only thing considered.

Let’s look at three key “intelligences” for high-performing teams.

  1. Cognitive Intelligence includes IQ, functional expertise, Experience, Knowledge, Skills. It’s what we’ve learned, what we know, it’s our Thinking. This includes Perspective-taking, Reasoning abilities, Judgment. Super important….first step.
  1. Affective Intelligence is our Feeling. It includes Emotional Intelligence (Self-awareness and Self-management, Empathy and Relationship management) as well as our Values, Purpose, Preferences, Attitudes and Desires. What do we Care about, what has Meaning for us and our customers? What Impact will our work deliver? Why does what we do Matter? A critically important factor that many companies are increasingly using to ensure fit with their culture.
  1. Instinctive Intelligence is our Doing. It’s how we take Action in creative problem solving. This is the least understood aspect of human beings so it’s often an undiagnosed…or misdiagnosed…source of conflict and inertia on teams. And also the greatest opportunity to improve collaboration and productivity!

Whether you use a process based on the principles of Lean or Design Thinking or Stage-gate, when it comes to project teams, especially product development and innovation teams, there are four critical outcomes needed to move through the creative problem solving process. We need Insights, Ideas, Implementation and Impact…and HOW we take action to DO these things is based on Instinctive Intelligence and determines our Action-based Strengths.

Let’s look at what happens in the front-end of innovation. When we’re discovering insights about customers and the market, we need to have a person (or people) on our teams who have the instinctive energy to gather lots of information. To dig and explore, to get specific, to see the nuances in the information.

If no one on the team has this instinctive drive, then we can miss critical information. We move too fast through this stage and don’t understand what customers and the market really need. We don’t have the necessary understanding of the critical market-driving insights needed for decision-making throughout the rest of the process.

If everyone has this instinctive drive then we experience inertia, we get stuck, we can’t move forward, we stall, we…the unspoken mantra always seems to be “we’re gonna need more information!”

Functional groups often have similar strengths in one or more stages of the innovation process…they have similar patterns in creative problem solving and communication…which can be the underlying source of misunderstanding across groups resulting in silos.

An R&D group with lots of engineers is likely to instinctively gather lots of information. Marketing (and Entrepreneurs!) may have seemingly unending energy for Dreaming Ideas with the unspoken mantra: “I love possibilities…and rainbows and unicorns.” Operations, concerned with Designing Implementation may seem to have the unspoken (sometimes spoken) mantra: “we’re gonna need a plan, Now” (often before the idea is known).

The irony is that our action-based strengths are also the source of our blind spots. We need people with differing strengths to enhance productivity and effectiveness. Yet those differences can be the source of tensions that arise when we don’t understand the underlying dynamics of instinctive intelligence.

What’s the mantra you most often sense on your teams? Where are your teams getting stuck? Where are they missing clarity on the key outcomes needed to deliver impact? Where are you experiencing conflict?

Awareness is the first step…


Logo credit: AIGA Design For Good logo (head, heart, hands) created by Michael Nÿkamp and Jody Williams design.

Michael Nÿkamp:

Jody Williams:

Share this entry
Lori Lovens
Innovation Savvy
© 2022 Innovation Savvy, Inc.