# [Zettel Feedback] Team work antipattern to start a discussion

edited March 3

Today, it's a reflective note: I don't have a source to cite!

• "Antipattern" is a term from my coding bubble to describe "things that happen regularly but which are a bad idea"
• Do you have ideas for tags? I currently have #team #antipattern #work #leadership
• Is "open-ended question" what I hope it is? "Closed question" would be sth. that you can answer with yes, no, 100; an "open-ended question" would be sth to just talk about. Fits the Wikipedia definition, but is it really without end?
• Early on, there's this paragraph:

What remains is that you are not taking up the ball yourself. Someone else is supposed to pick it up, then add something to "the discussion" (or rather: start it), and then throw the ball back.

To me, it's clear that this means: "you're trying to delegate instead of doing stuff yourself, but it's not a good way to do that. Find better ways below." I removed something along these lines because it sounded redundant. But maybe future me would like that. What do you think, as a reader?

# 202303031635 Team work antipattern to start a discussion

We need to create/do/fix/implement/think about XYZ. Let's discuss!

Sometimes, "let's discuss" can be a helpful invitation to get people to speak up.

But when used often, and when you don't lead with discussion-worthy content, this becomes a hollow phrase:

What remains is that you are not taking up the ball yourself. Someone else is supposed to pick it up, then add something to "the discussion" (or rather: start it), and then throw the ball back.

In a team of two, this can become awkward for the other person.

In larger teams, it can be awkward to be told, like a class is told by their teacher, to discuss. Your role in the group needs to match this expectation to not make this awkward.

When you're in charge: It's unclear for other team members when the discussion will be resolved. Is it an open-ended brainstorming? Will the first solution win? Will you decide what's going to be done? Clarify this by managing expectations and sketching the path: "Team, let's discuss a couple of options for 10 minutes, then we'll collect all ideas in the group, weigh the pros and cons together, and pick a path forward."

To speed things up:

1. Open a discussion effectively by starting it with something substantial: "It looks to me we should do A and B, or C and D. I don't know which is best. Do you have an idea, or maybe a totally different take?" -- Note that the "let's discuss" invitation becomes redundant through the open question.
2. If you don't have any idea at all, delegate properly and openly, or request a solution:
• "I realize we need to take care of ... and ..., please propose a plan to tackle this." -- This clarifies that there'll be feedback on a plan, but someone else is in charge of making a good plan.
• "Please go ahead and implement this as you see fit and get back to me if you run into ... or ... [to discuss workarounds]" -- This grants autonomy for the implementation. Keep in mind that delegation of the solution doesn't work well with micro-management. If you want to intervene, try to come up with 'triggers' that should halt the process, like an 'andon'[[202303031708]], the famous emergency halting tool in Toyota factories.

Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

• @ctietze said:

• "Antipattern" is a term from my coding bubble to describe "things that happen regularly but which are a bad idea"

From a first-person perspective, these are bad habits.

• Do you have ideas for tags? I currently have #team #antipattern #work #leadership

#discussion-strategy

• Is "open-ended question" what I hope it is? "Closed question" would be sth. that you can answer with yes, no, 100; an "open-ended question" would be sth to just talk about. Fits the Wikipedia definition, but is it really without end?

Open-ended doesn't mean without end. It refers to having an open mind in sending and receiving the discussion. I don't know what you mean by "an "open-ended question" would be sth to just talk about." "sth" must be German; it's not an English word.

• Early on, there's this paragraph:

What remains is that you are not taking up the ball yourself. Someone else is supposed to pick it up, then add something to "the discussion" (or rather: start it), and then throw the ball back.

To me, it's clear that this means: "you're trying to delegate instead of doing stuff yourself, but it's not a good way to do that. Find better ways below." I removed something along these lines because it sounded redundant. But maybe future me would like that. What do you think, as a reader?

This paragraph is clear. This is how I'd phrase it.
With the simple phrase "let's discuss," we can be struck by shyness that leaves us hoping someone will start. This kind of discussion is stiff and goes nowhere because everyone hopes someone else will speak. Give more guidance when initiating a team discussion to help the team feel comfortable understanding the scope.

Name suggestion -
Team discussions fall into an antipattern
The antipattern of team discussions

I like how you explain what to say from a leader's POV, going beyond the rudimentary "let's discuss." Another idea for the 'speed things up' section is to add to the discussion introduction a time limit.
3. Let's take 25 minutes to talk about our issues with A and B or C and D.
This, added to the ideas you already expressed, would make the discussion move quicker. Some may be spurred on by the deadline. It is essential to be flexible and continue the conversation if it is going well at 25 minutes just because you said 25 minutes in the beginning.

Will Simpson
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
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