Imagine you are part of a team involved in brainstorming name ideas for a new product. . You have been with the company for 6 months. This meeting consists of people of various ages, various internal departments and various levels of seniority and authority within the company. The branding team has been brainstorming for the last 2 hours, filling up pages and pages of the flip chart with innovative, imaginative names. The session consists of team members who are loudly, quickly, and assertively shouting out suggestions. In your estimation everyone else is generating many good ideas for this new product name.
What Do You Think?
- Given this atmosphere, would you feel comfortable jumping in and shouting out ideas? Why or Why not?
- If you were leading this team and saw a member not participating, what would you do? Is a lack of participation on the part of a member ethical and fair? Why or why not?
- Do you think you would feel more comfortable if you’d been with the company 10-years vs. 6 month
Given this atmosphere, would you feel comfortable jumping in and shouting out ideas? Why or Why not?
It is obvious that the meeting has a recorder and someone is taking down the ideas. But it is not very clear if there is a task leader. Now what I do in this scenario would depend on 2 factors –
If there is a mechanism to select the best name (by popular votes or something), if my role / designation is senior enough and if I have a good suggestion, I would not hold back. Sharing a good idea in an environment where people are throwing out ideas to be selected, should not be difficult.
The second factor would be my designation. If I were a trainee or analyst and if very senior people are discussing, I would probably not say anything. As an analyst or trainee, I would not be sure if my suggestion would be well received in a forum where different seniority levels are present. And when I would not be sure about the outcome, it is better not to do anything.
If you were leading this team and saw a member not participating, what would you do? Is a lack of participation on the part of a member ethical and fair? Why or why not?
If I were leading the team, then I would definitely ask the person if he has any ideas, I would be mindful that I don’t put him on the spot.
I would not conclude it to be unethical if a member is part of the team and he does not have to contribute. The person genuinely might not have any unique suggestion. Or he might be upset with his personal loss or something. As a leader I have a responsibility to find out if he is mourning a loss or if he is upset with something else. But this applies only if he is withdrawn. If he is withdrawn or genuinely out of ideas that need to be found out. And asking him, or talking to him in person is a good way to find out, what is going on with him. If he does not have any original idea, then it should be fine, if possible, the leader can give him some ideas or guide him about how he can get some ideas. Or if the leader finds out he is withdrawn due to some reason the leader should address that too.
Although if the leader finds out that the person did not speak up in the meeting because he is upset with another coworker or any other work related issues, then I would say it is not fair and may not be ethical for the person to hold back due to some conflict or issues.
Do you think you would feel more comfortable if you’d been with the company 10-years vs. 6 month
I think I would be more familiar with the work culture and the members in the meeting. I would know what they like or dislike better. So I would be way more comfortable in that situation. It is not only being familiar with people I work with, or understating the organization culture but about my own experience too. I would understand better about the expectation, and given I have an idea, I would not hold back due to seniority of others.