In a recent retrospective, the team were interrogating their reflection that they are communicating well, and what factors might be influencing this. The framework they are currently using does not prescribe dedicated time set aside for planning, and it’s for the team to work out the best way to collaborate according to the work they are doing. They described their method as ‘short, frequent and focussed’ conversations.
When prompted to identify the benefits working in this way, we noted:
- The shortness of the meetings meant that each team member could comfortably fit them in their own schedule.
- The focus of the meetings meant that there was a tangible and usable output from each discussion, and
- The frequency of the meetings meant they felt the benefit of rapid feedback loops allowing course correction and learning by doing.
One team member described the quality this gave the team: fluency. And I thought, “Hang on. This is flow
I got very excited about this, because it feels like flow states might well be a characteristic of a high capability team. Flow in the workplace as described by Mihály Csikszentmihályi
needs three conditions to emerge -
- Goals are clear
- Feedback is immediate
- A balance exists between opportunity and capacity
When these conditions exist, teams and individuals flourish as their achievements grow. In essence, the team had created these conditions for itself, without prompting.
Like a lot of team coaching, coaching for flow is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. It takes self awareness and self control to ensure your own thoughts and agenda don’t create barriers and impediments, even with the best intentions. This is the idea that I’m left with to test in the future: team flow emerges from autonomy.