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Stop Killing and “Plopping” Ideas
This final part of a four-part series presents a discussion scoring tool to help project teams develop ideas.!--h2>
Despite their members’ extensive knowledge and experience, many project teams struggle to solve problems, make bad decisions, and fail to solve problems. The Discussion Scoring Tool helps project teams increase effective communications and achieve new levels of performance.
Project teams must perform at high levels developing diverse members’ ideas because each team member typically brings unique insights and deep knowledge about specific topics to discussions. Because team members’ input usually impacts other team members, it’s not enough for some team members to simply allow others’ opinions to hold sway. Effective groups require all team members to actively engage, develop, and advance one another’s ideas. Project teams can use the Discussion Scoring Tool to assess and improve their effectiveness developing team member’s ideas.
How To Score Discussions
The Team Discussion Scorecard consists of one page divided into three columns, labeled D, K, and P. Your team will get the most from the scorecard if you use a flip chart page and designate a team member to sit outside the group keeping score for several five-minute time blocks. The scorekeeper draws a line marker each time a team member speaks, labeling each spoken line as D, K, or P following these guidelines:
D = Develop. Score team members’ comments “D” when they Develop the previous speaker’s ideas. Developing the idea means adding to it, enlarging it, and taking it to a next level that perhaps the original speaker didn’t consider.
K = Kill. Score team members’ comments “K” when they stop (“Kill”) the previous speaker’s idea. K’s are often pronouncements, exclamations, or strongly worded opinions. They may be correct, but the problem is that they halt—often prematurely—the development of the previous speaker’s thinking. Examples include, “That’s wrong!” “There you go again,” “You’re just reinventing the wheel,” or “No, no, no! I think we should do…” (the opposite of what the first speaker suggested).
P = Plop. Score team members’ comments “P” when they stop the development of the previous speaker’s ideas, but more quietly, passively than a Kill. When team members Plop another team member’s idea, they often ignore what the first team member said, change the subject and then assert their own idea or opinion.
Why Increase Your Team’s “Develops”?
The most effective teams consistently score a large proportion of Develops, and few Kills or Plops in their discussions. It’s important for project teams to increase their proportion of “Develops” in group discussions because actively engaging, developing another team member’s idea:
Four Ways to Increase Your Project Team’s Idea Development
Project teams can increase the quantity and quality of their Development of team members’ ideas by:
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of all these techniques depends not so much on specific formulas for wording. The techniques’ effectiveness requires that the person using them shift from the typical “Kill” impulse to a real effort to listen with an open mind and work with an idea that they may disagree with.
Samples of these Active Listening, Imagining Out Loud, and Yes-And responses to a Statistician’s idea, “I think we need a much larger sample size” are:
Active Listening: “You sound concerned.”
Any of these approaches develop the idea, adding new insights and opinions much more than the typical “Kill” response: “That’s ridiculous. You’re just being overly cautious.”
This is the fourth of a four-part series on improving project teams. Parts 1 and 2 described the predictable, recurring problems project teams encounter. This post and Part 3 detail actions project teams can take to improve decision-making and problem solving.
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