Teamwork makes the dream work. Our culture loves teams, but Shane Snow, entrepreneur and author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart, argues that teams have more potential than we realize. While many think of a successful team as one with peace and harmony, Snow says that signs of disagreement and friction are better indicators of a good team. He explains more about cognitive friction and diversity and their role in making teams live up to their reputation.
Cognitive friction is the first element in Snow’s suggestion for transforming a team. When everyone agrees, the work slows down and often comes to a standstill. Having healthy dissent and discussion encourages growth and change. Snow describes cognitive friction as when “you don’t get along, but you don’t get along well.” One way to get this friction is to pursue cognitive diversity in your team. Different perspectives on the world coming from different experiences and backgrounds bring with them varied strategies for problem solving. With more diversity, a team uncovers more options, leading to healthy discussion and, ultimately, a solution.
Snow gives several examples of how teams with friction have worked well in the past. From improv comedy to the Wu-Tang Clan, entertainers know the benefits that come from disagreement in a team. Snow also brings up the examples of American presidents and their cabinets, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. By harnessing the friction in their teams, these leaders were able to make a difference and produce tangible results. But, the push and pull of this friction only works well when every member is willing to listen and respect the rest of the team. With these kinds of team, Snow says, change can happen.
For more information about teamwork and Snow’s book, see the links below.
- Shane Snow, entrepreneur and author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart
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