rules and values

At the outset, the team agreed three rules:

1) don’t use the toilet (the one in the office).
2) don’t always sit in the same seat
3) don’t send e-mails across the table

Asked to share something positive about the previous week, all the team members but one talked about personal/family experiences, rather than work:

  • Tom: on holiday in Morocco, had visited a dead warlord’s estate.

  • Joanna: had stayed at a Landmark property in Scotland.

  • Stewart: in his work had become proud of what he has achieved.

  • Steve: had said goodbye to China, where he noted that Chinese people never hesitate to ask other people for a favour, except from foreigners.

  • Mike: had organised a birthday party for two-year olds.

  • Ludwig: had organised an outing with his daughter and wife (until 3am) and resolved to do it more often.
Asked to come up with a list of things that they would all commit to, the team formed into two groups.

The first came up with a long list including: honesty, no booze at lunch, being open with each other, being bold, being ready for criticism, expecting to upset the GMC, supporting each other, being unafraid, remembering that they were lucky to be doing this job, not compromising.

The second team suggested: being reflective, focusing on the positive, developing a meritocracy, transparency, trial and error, taking ownership of the project, putting family first.

The lists were summarised as follows:

  • Be open with each other and the outside world

  • Be tolerant

  • Be honest with each other and yourself

  • Stay loyal to each other

  • Make a difference

  • Be reflective

Finally they were narrowed down like this:

For this particular team, I’m still struck by the ‘touchy-feely’ quality of this list of things they wanted to commit to. In many ways it seemed untypical of the team and noticeably ignored issues like when and how hard they should work and how much time they should take off. Perhaps it would have been useful to bring the list up to date from time to time to reflect the issues that later emerged in the group. Perhaps drinking at lunchtime sometimes would have promoted fructifying stuff. And in any innovation team, perhaps some of the following oblique strategies (discussed, naturally enough, in Oblique Strategies) would be interesting:

  • Ask people to work against their better judgement

  • Be extravagant

  • Call your mother and ask her what to do

  • Discard an axiom

  • Display your talent

  • Do something sudden, destructive and unpredictable

  • Do the last thing first

  • Faced with a choice, do both

  • How would someone else do it?

  • How would you explain this to your parents?

  • Make an exhaustive list of everything you might do and do the last thing on the list

  • What wouldn’t you do?

  • You don’t have to be ashamed of using your own ideas.


What does coming up with ‘a list of things you can all commit to’ do? On the face of it, it’s an excellent idea. The team reminded themselves of it from time to time. Inevitably, they didn’t keep to it fully. Might it be useful to come up with a list of things you cannot commit to? Or that you don’t agree about? Or rules that you don’t accept? There is shadow/inferno stuff in this list, inevitably. Should it be openly explored?

No comments: