Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
How do you get past deadlocks in a meeting? You can apply the Six Thinking Hats. I've blogged about the Six Thinking Hats before, but to summarize, it's a way to get everybody thinking about the problem in a collaborative way.
The Keys to The Six Thinking HatsThe real key here is that rather than circular or deadlock debates, you focus the group on a particular viewpoint at a time. This is a similar to writing, then editing vs. editing while your write, or brainstorming, then critiquing vs. critiquing while you brainstorm. The big difference is that rather than just brainstorming and critiquing, you're looking at the issue from multiple, specific angles. On the people side of this technique, you're letting people wear a different "hat", in a safe, constructive way.
Applying the Six Thinking Hats The approach below is lightweight and low-overhead, but gets you 80% there without requiring everybody to know the details of the Six Thinking Hats.
Summary of Steps
Step 1. List the questions that represent the hatsList a set of questions on the whiteboard to represent the hats. You can do this either at the start of the meeting or when you hit a sticking spot.Here's the Six Thinking Hats:
Here's an example set of questions you can use to represent the hats:
The sequence of the questions can matter. For example, it wouldn't make sense to start thinking up solutions before you've focused on the problem.
Step 2. Walkthrough each question as a teamWalkthrough each question as a team. This is the key. Rather than debating each other, you're now collaborating. You'll be surprised when suddenly your team's "Devil's Advocate" is now showing off their ability to dream up wild solutions that just might work!
Step 3. Modify the approach.If it's not working, change the approach. For example, you might find that you started with the wrong "hat" or question. See if switching to another question or hat makes a difference. The key is to keep this lightweight but effective.
This isn't a heavy handed approach. Instead, it's a subtle shift in stratey from free-for all debate to focusing and coordinating your team's thinking power in a deliberate way. This lets everybody get heard as well as really bang on a problem from multiple angles in a teamwork soft of way.
And MindJet MindManager has a Six Hats template built it.
Evil Monkey: Dealing with Absenteeism
Where does the world's best insight come from? Yourself. Sure, somebody can lead you along, but it has
Where does the world's best insight come from? Yourself. Sure, somebody can lead you along, but it