Photo by Patrick Perkins.

As professionals we often put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Be it customers, peers, managers. We benefit from empathy and critical thinking. I like playing devil’s advocate. This often requires challenging own core beliefs.

Many of us are blessed with working with a team of smart people. And smart people are darn difficult to argue with. They have good arguments and often juxtaposed valid perspectives. Navigating this sometimes requires (😱) changing our own minds.

Here’s a few ideas I’ve come across recently that have challenged some common beliefs core to my work. Have fun.

We may not need teams anymore

HBR: Do We Still Need Teams?

As we’ve stated in past research, true teams have a shared mindset, a compelling joint mission, defined roles, stable membership, high interdependence, and clear norms. Co-acting groups represent a loose confederation of employees who dip in and out of collaborative interactions as a project or initiative unfolds.

This reminds me of the notion of “dynamic teams” I read about in uni. It’s startling to say that we don’t need teams. And it’s also not quite like that. There are some interesting benefits, though. Co-acting groups band and disband rapidly based on desired outcomes. I’d venture that start-ups are much better at this than larger corporations. There is potential of making disruptive re-orgs a thing of the past. Co-acting groups, or dynamic work comunities, are an enviable organizational capability.

The open office is not great for workers

NYT: Opinion | The Immortal Awfulness of Open Plan Workplaces

For decades, research has found that open plan offices are bad for companies, bad for workers, bad for health and bad for morale. And yet they just won’t die.

I admit this something that’s not new to me, ever since Peopleware at least. Yet, I also understand the challenges that drive us towards the open space multi-func spaces of today. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and we need to be respectful of this. However when was the last time your company experimented with private offices. (I’m not laughing, you are laughing. 😀)

Objectives and metrics may prevent us from achieving our higher goals

Kenneth Stanley: Set The Right Objectives [The Knowledge Project Ep. #148]

“Actually the subjective judgments are the interesting ones because the objective judgments are easy. You don’t need a degree to just measure something.”

Objectives and metrics may restrict the required creativity when dealing with complex problems. Our good-intentioned drive for objectivity can also trip us up. Subjective judgements and experiences are super valuable. “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”… Really?? I beg to differ. By the way, I’m an active participant and proponent of rolling out OKRs in our organization. It definitely helps to keep the hype in check.