Re: Team cultures
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 10:01:22 -0700 (MST)

Does anyone out there have any insight to offer on the following situation:

The Eastern Village group as a whole is using one consensus process, which we are working to hone (with help and training from Laird Schaub). However, every major team except community life uses a different process. The outreach team mostly meets virtually or just messages/phones each other. The finance team is (somewhat oddly, IMHO) much less formal and usually chews through items in long discussions at the local coffee house (which in large part accounts for my regular attendance at their meetings). The design team seems to use different variations in each subteam.

I think it is wonderful if teams have different styles -- no one has ever proven that better decisions or more work gets done in one culture or another. The important point is that the meetings are announced, open, and reports are made back to the large group. I was on a very efffective team that did all its work by email and I loved it. One of our community members, however, refused to recognize our existence because we never met!!!!!

Teams do need variety in the types of people who are on the team and your team meetings may preclude this. The best teams will have people who fill all the roles -- an instigator or nudger who reminds people to reach decisions, take action, etc. A person who soothes feelings. Some one who can keep records and write those reports. A balance of conservative and radical thinkers, etc. On this there is lots of research.

There is no process for reaching consensus that "works" for everyone (or some days for anyone). If you have consensus you have it. If you don't, you don't. I would suspect that every team needs to shake up their culture from time to time though, with new members or a new meeting place.

What I like is a team that does not do "meeting roulette" -- such a waste of time. With 5 members we have three strongly preferred communications styles -- email, phone, and in person. It has taken at least 15 emails, five face to face conversations, and five phone conversations ( that I know of) so far in four weeks and we still don't have a meeting time.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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