Control-Z Culture: Helping or Harming Your Team?

Maybe you remember the typewriter days. It used to be a typing mistake meant ripping out a whole sheet of paper and starting over. Then correction fluid was invented, which progressed to a correction tape right in the typewriter. Today, pressing Control-Z is a quick way to "undo" and eliminate almost any mistake we might make on our computer.

In our company we have a saying that almost everything is recoverable. We encourage each other to make and share "bad drafts" as a way to lower the perfectionist bar and be entrepreneurial. We say, "There are no mistakes - either we win or we learn."

Yet a recent conversation has me wondering if a culture of Control-Z could be diminishing people's contingency thinking - that is, pre-thinking potential consequences before taking action. Does our ability to instantly undo a mistake, or get another life in our computer game, encourage us to randomly try actions to see what will happen? How might we be wasting money or harming relationships by acting without forethought? How could we benefit from doing a bit more "what if" thinking or discussing consequences before they occur?

At Trebuchet Group, we like to say we bring more conflict into our clients' workplace. Healthy conflict, that is. Following are some ways to bring the right amount of conflict to deal with either too much contingency thinking or too much Control-Z in your team.

Some teams make decisions quickly, without a lot of discussion. They grab the first option and run with it because you can always Control-Z! In this situation of false harmony, team members withhold their perspectives because they see the issue as the other person's area expertise or responsibility. In this case we encourage actively mining for conflict. For example, you could try:

  • Setting a team rule that silence indicates disagreement
  • Asking, "What could go wrong with this plan?"

Some teams have a tendency to over-analyze. They want to make sure they have exactly the right solution - and by doing so end up stuck in analysis paralysis. It feels like we're doing work yet actually we're avoiding the issue. A few things we've found that can help include:

  • Setting a date or trigger for when the final decision must be made
  • Experimenting with one or more ideas to get more information to support a decision

Like most situations, there are two ends of the spectrum when it comes to action and contingency thinking, and the best decision results are somewhere in between.


Diana Hutchinson is Trebuchet Group's Success Enabler

Diana Hutchinson is Trebuchet Group's Success Enabler

How could your team benefit from moving more towards the middle, where healthy conflict leads to the most effective decisions?

If you're stuck at either end of the spectrum, contact us to explore how we could assist your team in achieving a little more healthy conflict.