Brian Remer sent me an email with a connection to his online newsletter and I thought to kind of reprint that here with some of my own comments, ideas, and resources. He starts out discussing the Susan Cain book called, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” He abstracts the contents and then goes on to add a few perspectives and productive frameworks and exercises.

Pretty interesting concept and one that seemingly applies to all of our leadership communications activitites as well as our team building work.

The basic idea is that everyone has ideas and perspectives and something to add, but that the dynamics of a group may be such that people appear to be uninvolved or non-contributory when they have great ideas that would be beneficial. I work on some of these themes in my article, “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…” that focuses on the benefits of better engaging the 50% of the middle of any organization. (Click here to download that article.)

I Quit Article Icon

Brian’s work, seen on his newsletter page at http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2013/February%202013.htm, focuses on generating the more active involvement of the more quiet people in the workplace. He reviews Susan Cain’s concepts of introverts in the workplace. What I somewhat disagree with are these comments:

Cain criticizes what she sees as an excessive use of teams in education and business saying it puts introverts at a disadvantage and reduces the number of creative ideas. She recommends giving people time to work alone, providing private space for contemplation, and using online brainstorming in which sharing ideas by text slows everyone’s thinking to a more thoughtful rate.

Is there really an excessive use of teamwork in education and business? Wow. I did not see that coming. What I would say is more of a reality is that many of the “teambuilding” and “Icebreakers” are simply delivered with a lot less focus on “team” such that the more dominent extraverts tend to overpower the others.

My approach has always been smaller groups of 5 to 6 people and we often give “quiet contemplation time” to the tabletops to consider ideas before they are discussed. We also use facilitated exercises such as, “What are some Square Wheels that our organization needs to address” as templates for these small group discussions.

In my view, not everyone wants to be the Stand-Up Presenter of the tabletop’s ideas. But I do find, and my observations support, that everyone in one of these small groups will participate and it is natural for everyone to contribute. There is some new research on collaboration that I observed on TV that supports the reality that everyone with part of the task will participate to contribute to the group’s successes.

In our Lost Dutchman game, we have assigned roles and tasks and, with these small groups, it is impossible for people to not be involved and engaged. They do feel that they contribute to the tabletop’s efforts. We simply need more of this in our organizations.

Check out Brian’s writings and read some of his suggestions about how to approach the issues and generate some productive silence. Solid stuff, for sure.

And, you can see our newly created pictorial overview of how The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine works to involve and engage everyone in the effort to Mine as much Gold as WE can! Find that Pictorial here.

Muscles slide in backgroundDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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