Protecting the Team

by Steven M. Smith · 2 comments


A vital task for a successful team is to extend membership to the right people and deny membership to the wrong people. If you add or persist with the wrong people, the team will fail at some level.

Feelings about who is excluded cut deep. Talk to anyone about exclusion and you will hear a personal story about a time when that person wasn’t allowed to participate in an activity that they cherished. For instance, I still remember the heartbreaking experience of being cut from my junior high school basketball team.

Intense feelings triggered by bad experiences may cause a person to form survival rules about exclusion. A typical rule is “I must never exclude anyone (because they will get hurt like I did).” If a member of a team operates with this rule, especially if that member is influential, the team will experience pain and anguish.

In this session, you will have the opportunity to be a member of a team. The team will work together to solve a series of problems. The solutions will cause each member to confront their survival rules for inclusion/exclusion. And this confrontation will provide us an opportunity to investigate these rules and work with people to transform them so they and their teams are more effective.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Zimmerman January 9, 2010 at 5:12 am

Sounds interesting; where is this happening? The next AYE?


Steven M. Smith January 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Hi Matt, Thank you for asking. It’s a fun workshop. I have no plans to lead it as a public offering in 2010. It is, however, available as an on-site offering. I pioneered it at AYE and have led it several times since. The simulation makes the problem clear and enables exploration, which sets up a great debrief for learning. I would enjoy the opportunity to lead it for your organization where team membership seems to me to be a critical factor.


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