Article++ (Putting your company’s whole brain to work – Dorothy Leonard and Susaan Straus)

The article under survey is the only article featured in the Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management written by women. And this gives the whole series a diverse insight into the broader topic especially when the two ladies attribute a very pertinent issue which every cross-functional and cross-domain team management faces: How to get everyone to work as a team?

The authors realize that different people have different ways to tackle the world and when people from these different spectra interact, there are problems which emerge due to the direct clashes involved. However, with careful observation, better understanding of these different ‘cognitive’ typed thinkers and actors within a group, one can devise a workable strategy to achieve the true promised potential of teams with diversity.

Some people are inherently more inclined towards analytical reasoning while others on intuitive reasoning. One rely heavily on data and numbers while others rely on soft matters and highly qualitative information to drive their decision making. And when proposals are presented to an audience comprising of both groups, there is a definite backlash in the making as a simple denial of a proposal ultimately leads to a personal attack unless the management is able to bring awareness and tolerance about the diverse point of views.

The authors go on to say that several groups rely on either of the two types of people in their teams and apparently these teams do good but only within their limited domain. As soon as innovation is demanded from such a group, the lack of having what they term as ‘whole brain’ people makes it a hinderance. Therefore, the foremost task of a knowedge manager within a diverse recipe team is to identify the proportions of left-brained and right-brained people in the team. The left-brained, more inclined towards the intuitive and more qualitiative line of reasoning while the right-brained more inclined towards hardcore facts and figures, more analytical and logical can present bias in the overall output of the team’s work but a proper mixture leads to the perfect blend required for innovation.

To ‘know’ the constituents of one’s team, a knowledge manager must have analytical understanding of the team’s composition for which charts such as the MBTI chart or the HBDI table are the chief tools in use. Having such a quantitative overview of the team’s cognitive content, the manager can then devise a strategic plan what the authors term as the ‘Creative Abrasion‘ which fine tunes the team towards an optimal communication scheme for innovative work.

The goal of this creative abrasion is to depersonalize conflict and provide an inner understanding of how the team operates as both individuals and as a team. According to them, usually an individual has a certain preference towards a line of reasoning while having an ability to do reasoning in another way much better. For instance, some people might be better equipped with making quantitative analytical reasoning but prefer intuitive reasoning for problem solving. A quantitative insight into the makeup of a team helps not just the team but the individuals as well. The authors end up by emphasizing how it is important for management developing an insight into the cognitive reasoning process of the team to be a part of this whole process just like all the others involved. This leads to a robust scheme otherwise further problems originate making the management the culprit.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: