Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Teamwork and cognitive collaboration from within an organization are probably two of the biggest factors that contribute to whether a firm succeeds or not. Formation of and communication between teams can often be beset with various issues that can stop a team’s effectiveness dead in its tracks. Even more problematic is that the traditional formation of teams along the lines of functionality tends to create an unbalanced team that only has experience tackling the issues from one perspective, and is therefore unlikely to come up with ‘outside of the box’, innovative solutions.

Fostering cognitive collaboration both within and between teams means first understanding the people who make up those teams, knowing what their thinking and behavioral preferences are, and organizing them together in a way in which complements these different mental styles.

This approach to teamwork and team building has two major benefits:

First, a team built around all seven of the Emergenetics thinking and behavioral attributes will not be pigeonholed with a limited function-based outlook on the problem. To avoid a ‘Maslow’s Hammer‘-like situation, teams must be balanced in terms of function and thinking and behavioral preferences, so that they have access to the entire problem-solving toolbox.

Second, a team that is balanced in different mental attributes has members who look at situations and communicate their ideas in different ways, leading to more varied solutions, which have been challenged and tested by those who view the situation differently.

Individuals with differing behavioral preferences allow for a team to find an optimal way through cognitive collaboration to actually go about the challenge of solving issues and to communicate their solutions.

All seven of the mental attributes referenced above serve different but equally important functions in the cognitive collaboration process, and lacking any of them can lead to a less than optimal team.

Those in the third third of the behavioral attribute of Expressiveness are talkative and develop their ideas as they speak about the issue. They will be able to find the best ways to communicate the team’s ideas not only to upper management, but also to other teams and even ultimately customers. On the other end of the spectrum, those in the first third, who are more reserved, tend to ponder their ideas more thoroughly before they speak, and when given the space can generate great insights.

Those in the third third of the Assertiveness behavioral attribute are those who are willing to push hard for their ideas; these people will be able to identify and push forward the major issues and topics that the team is facing. They will serve to keep the team on track toward their goals, and moving forward. Those in the first third of Assertiveness tend to be the peacekeepers of the group. These people help make sure differences don’t get too heated and can help all sides see the benefits and issues with various novel solutions.

Individuals with different levels of the Flexibility behavioral attribute will help in guiding the team on how many different issues they should tackle at once, while also challenging and evaluating different solutions. Those in the third third of flexibility tend to be open to many different ideas, and that is excellent for the process of idea generation. Meanwhile, those in the first third tend to be more focused and set in their ideas, and are great at challenging the ideas generated.

Difference in thinking preferences also serves a major role in the quality and amount of innovation present in the solutions generated by the team. Once again, an unbalance of team members in terms of their thinking preferences can lead to suboptimal performance and results.

Analytical thinkers serve the very important purpose of idea testers. These are the individuals who want to see the logic and data which supports the novel solutions generated by Conceptual thinkers. They ensure that new ideas are feasible and make sense for the task at hand, and if an idea doesn’t, these are the people who can deconstruct the idea and allow the team to rebuild it.

Structural thinkers are people who value process and standardization. They not only serve the purpose of keeping the team on task and on time, but also allow for the formation of real steps needed to implement solutions throughout the entire organization.

Social thinkers serve the important function of making sure that teams factor in the human element in their solutions and ideas. These types of thinkers are naturally empathic and keep in mind others when evaluating different solutions. Their involvement helps ensure that the solution is not only focused on the bottom line, but takes into account the health of the overall organization and its customers.

Lastly, we have our Conceptual thinkers; these are great idea generators, and live to brainstorm. These are the members of the team who are concerned with creating novel ideas, and understanding how possible solutions will affect the business in terms of their long-term goals.

All of these attributes serve very important functions within the team itself, and it is easy to see why a team built without taking these mental attributes into account would not be as effective as it could be. Fortunately, as innovation becomes a driving force to success in many firms, the importance of balance in team building is becoming widely accepted and expected to grow.

The Emergenetics WEteam approach help organizations learn how best to form these balanced teams and ensure successful solutions are generated through teamwork.