Effective teams: giving time and space for people to contribute - Dr Jan Peters
Dr Jan Peters is an expert on gender and diversity issues in science and engineering (STEM)
Women, engineering, science, STEM, gender, inclusive,
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Indeed there is always a place for doughnuts.

— Effective teams: giving time and space for people to contribute

Indeed there is always a place for doughnuts.

Have you ever wondered how to release the thoughts of the thinkers sitting across the table from you in a planning session? Has it even ever crossed your mind that you might have something to do with their reticence in coming forward with a question or idea? I know it can be hard to believe but you might find that your passion and enthusiasm for the project, your ideas or just the way you can instantly see what’s wrong with something can actually put others off simply engaging in discussion.

While some of us naturally make connections quickly, have ideas oozing from every pore, others like to ponder over an idea, reflect on what might happen if… or consider how a new idea or tool might fit with other systems in place for years. Maybe these ‘other’ people are drawing on the heaps of information filed away in their internal box files and undertake a thought analysis BEFORE they commit to opening their mouths.  It may be that you and others simply won’t let them get a word in.

This, my friend, is the time to excuse your self and seek out a lovely box of doughnuts. Suggest a pause to the meeting. Call a moratorium on noise and ideas. Demand time for reflection. Then set out some guidelines for capturing the thoughts: coloured pens maybe, post-it notes or use a roll of plain wallpaper to go large. Invite your colleagues to review the design ideas, the flip charts, and whiteboards and quietly add in their thoughts. And then slink off to buy the doughnuts.

When you return you can eat the doughnuts. You didn’t think they were for sharing? Well, perhaps you can share them with your other noisy colleagues. And then sit back and listen. For at least twice as long as you were involved in talking.

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