How To Resolve Differences In A Team

Make sure you get the team to agree on the highest level assumptions.

When there are intense debates within your team, and you don’t think you can reach a conclusion, one of two things will happen:

  1. Someone will throw their hands in the air and say “Fine! if that’s what you want!”
  2. You make the team take a step back, and ask a higher level question.

When you ask a higher level question, you will discover that the reason the team was disagreeing was because their understanding of the problem was fundamentally different. Maybe they were building the product for a different persona, or maybe they were feeling insecure about their role in the team. Whatever it is, the root cause of the team’s disagreements will only surface when you take the conversation to a higher plane.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
– Albert Einstein

Make sure your team’s thinking changes before you try to solve the problems.

Edit: Tejaswi reminded me of the 5 Why’s framework to get at root causes. It can be applied very well here too. Asking “why is X saying this?” is a powerful way to take a step back from the intensity of a heated debate. The key thing to remember at that point though would be to NOT make assumptions about any person and instead clarify your belief about what the other person believes. Thanks Tejaswi!

Do you have any other tips about how to handle this? Please let me know in the comments below.