When Maryanne and I work together, or I should say, used to work together, one or both of us would leave at the end of the day with steam coming out of the top of our heads.
I was frustrated and so was she.
Then John told me he could no longer work with Maryanne because she was simply too anal and shut down his creativity. I nodded and said "It's like she was born on a different planet."
Then Ted said he was having trouble with John, who was so scattered he could never figure out what was finished and what still needed to be done. He requested to find a way to work with Maryanne who was, in his words, the team star.
The team was so multinational and complex with a wonderful mix of races, gender, gay straight, tall short, and every religion you could think of.
So, what was the problem?
This team was smart. You had to be smart to be in this prestigious company. You had to know your stuff.
It all boiled down to learning styles.
You see, each of us has an internal preference for how we learn. Some need check lists. Others want to scan information and come back to get the details later. Some loved Lego's as kids. Others had a penchant for doodling or staring out the window.
When this particular team was put through a learning styles evaluator (the Gregorc Style Delineator is a great self-assessment instrument) things began to fall into place. Regardless of all the other diversity issues, this was color and gender blind.
If you are an abstract random (my style) you go nuts with tiny details at the beginning of a project. You can put them in later, however in the beginning, if you can't discuss the big picture, you fall flat like a balloon out of air.
And yet, it you're a concrete sequential thinker, you absolutely must have a 'this-then-that' road map or you always feel like you are wearing twisted underwear and can't sit comfortably.
Once you know who does best in broad strokes and in details you can divide up the project and I promise you work will get done faster and with more kindness.
Maryanne and I have learned to respect our different ways of learning and I am forever grateful that her ability to make sure all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted give me more breathing room to stare at the clouds and say "Hey, here is another way that will be even better."
This is such a major part of diversity and yet, so often overlooked. Request that your team take a simple test to see how you can work together more effectively and honor each others unique styles.