Individuals coming together to work brings incredible possibilities, growing complexity, and plenty of ways to misstep together. The same principles that guide change with individuals are at play with teams, programs, and organizations. The difference is largely one of scale; implementation must be very different to enable participants to remain engaged and offering their best contributions.
Over the past couple decades’ work with countless teams, we’ve seen some simple truths emerge about when people do their best work: when given space and authority to self-organize around topics that matter to them; when they are trusted and supported to do their best work; when they are able to see ongoing progress. When these are true, thirst for learning becomes unquenchable; motivation unleashed.
The problem isn’t necessarily one of belief; many leaders agree with these statements. How they create the space is less clear. Can 50, 100, 1,000 or more people come together and be fully engaged for days on end creating solutions to the most complex, nuanced, and emotionally-charged topics? The short answer is “yes.”
Below are a few favorite techniques that enable self-organization, massive parallelization. They are able to succeed at generating desirable outcomes, even in seemingly intractable conflict.