A Matter of Conversation
Psychological safety and its tenets of learning behavior are built from having the right conversations as a team. Similarly, many of the industry leaders I interviewed use questions to guide team members toward participation, but with mixed results. When questions are too open, i.e. "what do you think?" team members may respond passively. Specific questions are more effective, because they limit choices and aim toward the essence of a problem. Drawing from our academic insights, here's what we know about conversations.
- Team members need to have the right conversations.
- Team members need to have conversations with everyone sharing.
- Teams members should talk and listen as equally as possible.
These insights drew me to reflect on my experiences at Hyper Island, where our frequent reflection sessions consisted of three simple but specific questions.
- What happened that affected your the most?
- What did you learn about yourself & others?
- What would you do differently?
At Hyper Island, these three questions based on the reflection-on-action model became of the foundation for our creative work. The deeper, more specific, more truthful we shared our answers with the team, the stronger we became as a unit. I believe they are simple questions that when taken seriously, will induce psychological safety. Nonetheless, without the cultural context of Hyper, they seem difficult to adapt for other creative teams. As we learned from the conditions of effective teamwork, having a clear Structure & Design
is important. The lack of temporal markers or structure make them hard questions for a leader who wants to try new methods. My goal is to give muscle to these questions, so they can stand on their own and exist as a "mini-cultural" experience. Rethinking the Project
I'm interested in the life of a task, or what creatives deal with constantly — projects. According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (2016). The project is interesting to look at as an entity because it is ubiquitous in creative work teams. It is also ripe for change to integrate psychological safety through conversations. So how can we apply it? Let's examine the structure of a project. A project is typically viewed in a linear fashion. We see it visually on Ghantt charts or timelines, with various deliverables hurdling toward the end. It is essentially a line with a beginning and end and milestones in between.