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Taking A Team’s Temperature

The chemistry of a creative team is absolutely critical for making ideas happen. Yet when a problem is brewing, our tendency is often to block it out.

The chemistry of a creative team is absolutely critical for making ideas happen. What goes unsaid can erupt into a great fiasco. When a problem is brewing, our tendency is to block it out. After all, who wants to be confrontational or take time out when stress and deadlines are looming? But an “infection” left untreated can become a full-blown disaster. The most effective creative teams are able to detect and address concerns before they evolve into problems.

If a team is like a living body, then each person is part of an intricate immune system. Any member of the team should be able to notice and alert the team to a brewing problem, and the entire team should coordinate to address it. A single concern for one is a worthy concern for all.Every person on a team should be empowered to raise a challenge. All too often, the “veterans” of a team are relied upon for reporting issues. However, the intuition to detect problems is often strongest among the most junior members of a team.  If there were a “thermometer” that took the team’s temperature at any given moment, any individual should be able to trigger a concern, and the whole team should be ready to respond.

Our team is experimenting with a little tool we developed to monitors the team’s temperature. It is a small circular status meter with an arrow that can be pushed from “calm” to “super stressed” and anywhere in between. Anyone can change it, and all can see it. When caution is required, we are all signaled to arrange a meeting and discuss it. Who the actual person is who takes the initiative to adjust our “thermometer” is irrelevant. All that matters is whether our team comes together as a result.

When a team catches a cold, candid discussion is the immune system. As your team grows and takes on more dynamic (and thus more stressful projects), consider ways to gauge your team’s temperature and take action when required.

This tip was written by Scott Belsky, Behance Team. Explore more tips, and check out Behance’s guest postings for small businesses trying to make ideas happen, hosted at American Express’ OpenForum.

More Posts by Scott Belsky

Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.

Comments (2)
  • Smarky

    Interesting idea… but I really wouldn’t say calm and cool is “All good” at all, that sounds like a danger area to me!<br />
    <br />
    Who says pressure and stress are a bad thing?

  • biggins

    Infections can lead to full blown disasters – but I wonder if they more often lead to steady, low-grade discontent, distrust, alienation, and avoiding of collaboration.

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