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Why Differences of Opinion are Healthy

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

In a Lean office environment, why would we want to listen to differences in opinion?

When I first started to lead team brainstorm sessions, I already had an End in mind, and became very frustrated when others could not see the same end, spent too long on single discussion points, or even had no opinion.

Initially I had to change my own perception. Already having an End In Mind is not a concept associated with Lean, since it is essential to work as a Team. With having only one end, one solution and not listening to others, any Lean project is doomed for failure.

Secondly, I needed to reinforce at the very start of a project, the differences in people and why they are chosen for a project based on their strengths and differences of opinion. To have a team of like minded people is not a good basis for a Lean project.

My top 5 tips to ensure a healthy team environment:

1. Focus on Communication - Healthy communication between team members is essential for ensuring successful results in a Lean project. And of course between the Project Leader, Management and the team. Don’t let communication slip, and at the same ensure you are communicating the right information to the right audience. Idea – schedule status update meetings frequently

2. Sense of Importance - Every team member, regardless of the number of tasks each has, must feel their sense of importance in the team. Everybody must feel they included in the decisions regarding a project. Buy-in is the biggest asset to a Lean project.

3. Differences of Opinion – different perspectives are healthy in team work. If each team member respects every other team member then these differences in opinion will never give way to conflicts. You can even kick off the project by explaining why each member has been chosen, and the strengths each person brings to the team.

4. Every opinion counts - Every team member should understand that every opinion is right and not to take others comments, feedback negatively. The team need to understand constructive criticism if also healthy and is not to be perceived as a personal attack, but rather as a learning aid.

5. Celebrate decisions – the team need to learn to celebrate each milestone, and embrace any decision taken from an idea which was not their own. Project Managers and leaders should ensure every small success is recognized and rewarded.

Diversity is a winner every time, take time to choose your team carefully and you will be rewarded with great ideas and a productive outcome every time.


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