Discover Your Brain Strengths to Navigate Life
One of the landmark references to “team learning” appeared in Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline (1990), where he said, “The discipline of team learning starts with ‘dialogue‘, the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine ‘thinking together’ …. [It] also involves learning how to recognize the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning.” Let’s look at, explore and expand Senge’s concept of team learning in the light of modern and practical neuroscience.
Team learning, thinking and performance form a coherent trio of what a team strives to do together. Dialogue is a method for communicating with one another about topics, situations and challenges of shared interest. The goal of dialogue includes expansion of individual and collective knowledge. Effective and successful communication requires all parties to be willing to exchange information with an open and flexible mind.
True dialogue involves understanding diverse points of view rather than defending a position and attacking others. Suspending assumptions and judgment about what’s true or false and surrendering the personal need to be right allow team members to make a giant step toward consciously learning from one another. This applies both to one-on-one and “team” dynamics in your personal and professional life.
If the true purpose of dialogue is “learning and thinking together,” perhaps most communication exchanges do not fit this description. Think about how much time the people you live and work with spend in true dialogue. “Non-dialogue” communications involve telling people what to think, defending and attacking, complaining, providing irrelevant information and emoting with the sole purpose of protecting one’s ego.
True dialogue can be conducted in two forms:
Non-directive dialogue is when two or more people get together with no specific agenda or topic. They meet in a quiet and comfortable environment, free from external interruptions and sounds. The idea of non-directive dialogue is to expose subconscious thoughts about what may be blocking or limiting team success and to reveal opportunities for breakthrough thinking. The process can be awkward and painfully slow for newcomers; expert facilitation is recommended. At least one hour should be allotted for a session; this can be a problem when people are focused on the clock and getting visibly productive work done. Non-directive dialogue is a powerful and transformative procedure for team members who trust one another, feel safe in each other’s presence, are daring and willing to be vulnerable, and have the desire to “leapfrog” team performance.
Directive dialogue revolves around exchanging information important to team performance, with the goal of building core competencies, creating and improving products and services, solving problems and making good decisions. This can occur in meetings, retreats, email exchanges, phone conversations and teleconferences. Directive dialogue sessions have great potential for leveraging team member’s know-how and decreasing communication time. Teams rarely think about aligning their people’s interests and competencies with subject matter and the best ways and times to communicate, but team productivity and performance will soar when teams develop and implement their communication methodologies.
The missing link for team communication success is statistically validated information about each person’s sensory and cognitive pathway strengths for learning, thinking and communicating. This knowledge helps the team communicate effectively with one another and leverages their collective brainpower for “whole brain thinking.” Foundational practical neuroscience data on how team member’s brains are wired for success is the basis for exceptional team learning, thinking and performance.
In conclusion, dialogue, whether directive or non-directive, is the “high road” pathway for team learning and thinking success. It involves suspending judgment, opinions and positions. Successful dialogue requires open and flexible minds to understand diverse perceptions, observations and thinking. There is no right or wrong in true dialogue; what matters the most is the apparent best course of action for the good of the team and its stakeholders. All teams benefit from leveraging their brain strengths for communication success. Practical neuroscience methods such as these are the ideal solution to strengthen team communication and accelerate team learning, resulting in greater team success.
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A key component for exchanging information and learning is getting on each other’s preferred “wavelengths.” The Brain Pathways system may be what you have been searching for to accelerate team communications; this is the statistically validated assessment mentioned in the article. Your personalized Brain PathWays report scientifically measures and describes your preferences for learning, listening, thinking, problem solving, communicating and decision making. The on-line process takes less than 15 minutes, the results last a life time. Click to purchase your Brain PathWays online self-assessment and download your report today.