Trivia Quiz Lessons for Collaborative Teams

 In Collaboration, Leadership

The quiz team from L-R: Me, Joel, Hannah & Karen

Every Saturday our family unit bonds by doing the quiz in the Sydney Morning Herald and in the process we face the same challenges that all collaborative teams do. As team members we have our own strengths: Karen knows literature, Joel is a geography guru and Hannah speaks fluent French. I’m the sparrow who picks up scattered bits and pieces from all over the place.

Here’s the thing, we pool our knowledge to get the best score out of 25, however we have our own ideas about each question. Sometimes we are certain of the answer, which is fine … unless two or more of us are certain about different answers. How to resolve that? It comes down to forcefulness of personality, reasons why we hold that belief and the process we go through in making our team choice. And then there are questions where we have only vague ideas about the answers and that’s a whole new ball game.

You may notice similar dynamics at play in your teams and projects?

In last week’s quiz, we were asked to name the US state that is abbreviated to “MO”. Us Australians know a little bit about the US, but not in that level of detail. We came up with three finalists Montana, Missouri and Minnesota and chose … Montana. Alas, we were wrong, it’s Missouri and kudos to you if you knew that. Joel favoured Missouri with too little conviction and was overruled by us elders who thought we knew better. Dang!

With truly collaborative teams and skills in short supply, what lessons come from our family quiz challenge?

Lesson #1

Communicate the reasons why you hold a view, otherwise your team members could assume there is no basis for it. And if you actually don’t have a basis for your view, make that crystal clear too.

Lesson #2

Someone must be willing to make a final decision and be accountable for it. They don’t have to be the person with the title of leader, they just need to demonstrate balanced judgment.

At a family event with 15 people we expected higher scores. Wrong! It turned out that, out of politeness and regard for the family dynamic, people who knew the answer were not always willing to push them with enough force. Whilst others displayed high conviction and acted forcefully even when they were just guessing! It was a minefield for our scribe who was writing the answers and our score suffered as a result.

Lesson #3

Team size counts. Collaborative decision-making processes are unwieldy once you go beyond 6-7 people. I blanch when I hear of Boards or advisory groups that have more than 20 members, it’s hard getting things done. You have to break discussions down into smaller conversations and then bring the key messages (and conviction levels) back to the whole group.

Lesson #4

Newsflash! We are all wrong some of the time. The important thing is to suck it up, be humble and look for patterns or unconscious biases that we can adjust for. Karen says I haven’t passed this lesson yet!

Lesson #5

Have fun within sensible bounds. Certain types of organisations, such emergency services, require very disciplined, structured procedures because lives can be at risk, however it doesn’t mean that designing or reviewing their processes has to be glum, they are vehicles for creativity, personal expression and fun! Team decision making is a vehicle for sifting through a groups’ knowledge, expertise and social behaviours (quirks included at no extra charge).

What family or team rituals do you enjoy?

We look forward to our weekly quiz for all of these reasons and, perhaps subconsciously, it helps us build the collaborative team skills we need in getting on with our work and lives.

A Quiz Question For You

What ‘popular’ 13-letter word is an anagram of Rio Balloon Act?

Phil Preston is a speaker and facilitator who creates collaborative teams, cultures and strategies. You can stay in touch by following him on Linked In or contacting him directly .

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