Brian Remer sent me an email years ago with a connection to his neat online newsletter and I thought to kind of reprint some of that again with some of my own comments, ideas, and resources. Brian starts out discussing Susan Cain’s book called, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,“ abstracting the contents and going on to add a few of his personal perspectives, productive frameworks and exercises.
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, even when they have great ideas that would be beneficial. They simply have a different style of working with other people’s ideas and working in a group, often when they do not have sufficient time to thoroughly consider ideas.
Some of these same concepts and thoughts appear in a different 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.)
Brian’s abstract can be seen on his newsletter page at http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2013/February%202013.htm, focusing 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.) My 30+ years of working with people and performance would suggest that many of the “teambuilding” and “Icebreakers” are simply delivered with a lot less focus on “team” such that the more effusive extraverts and faster information sorters tend to simply conversationally overpower the others.
My approach has always been to use smaller groups of 5 to 6 people and to give “quiet contemplation time” to the tabletops, to help those participants to consider ideas before they are discussed within a larger group. This provides people with more thinking time as well as allowing more generative solution and processing. We also use facilitated exercises such as, “What are some Square Wheels that our organization needs to address,” as discussion templates for these group discussions.
In my view, not everyone wants to be The Stand-Up Presenter of the tabletop’s ideas — most would rather have someone else do it.
But I do find, and my observations support, that everyone in these small groups will participate without much prompting — and it is natural for everyone to contribute. The reality that everyone with part of the task will participate to contribute to the group’s successes.
In our Lost Dutchman team building exercise, tabletops have assigned roles and tasks for each of the players and, with these small groups, it is impossible for people to not be involved and engaged. Each person does feel that they contribute to the tabletop’s efforts and our debriefings are more powerful because of this. We simply need of this active involvement and participation in more of 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.
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement products. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant who designs simple, powerful learning tools.
See the powerful new teambuilding game, The Collaboration Journey Challenge
Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.
Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
Also published on Medium.