Allies experience differences

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…dialogue, conversation, discussion, debate on questions that matter. You are doing your best to apply don’t just do something, stand there!.

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Setting up conditions under which every person can be independent of group pressure help identify and integrate differences into a bigger whole, leading to constructive, progressing, energizing gatherings. Meetings that matter.


  • when people make controversial statements, they risk being ignored, coerced, or attacked, causing them to abandon the conversation and task;
  • making sure that nobody becomes a scapegoat for saying something out of the ordinary keeps groups whole and working on their task (witness the TED psi wars about Sheldrake)
  • diagnosing a group's behavior is futile;
  • only become active in those instances where disagreements might end productive work;
  • experience differences as a creative opportunity to keep people working without their having to agree instead of dreading conflict;
  • it is our lot to categorize people before we know them;
  • subgrouping goes on all the time in the meeting; knowing this phenomenon gives you the leadership options you never had before;
  • with a few well-chosen words, you can change a stereotypical subgroup into its functional—contributing to growth—equivalent;
  • as long as each person has an ally, people maintain their independence;
  • as long as there is a subgroup for every viewpoint, every voice is hear, and people add new information, the whole group is more likely to keep working on their task;
  • getting people to differentiate themselves—to heighten their awareness of their differences—holds the key to integrated problem solving and decision making;
  • every contribution has value, even though it might not be obvious;
  • groups and individuals usually ignore a person's stumbling;


  • help people experience functional differences when stereotypes might prevail—group members will take care of the rest;
  • Just Stand There as long as people stay with the task by:
    • putting out their own ideas;
    • asking questions;
    • answering questions;
    • asking for or giving information;
    • building on each other's ideas;
  • point out if a the flow of conversations flows away for several comments in a row—“Let’s pause and see were we are. I think I’m losing the thread.”
  • find anyone who has wandered far alone and is at risk of not coming back, and ask, “I know there is a connection between what you are saying and the topic we are discussing. How does it connect up for you?”


Pay attention to a statement that makes you wish a person had stayed quiet or used different language. Decide whether to find that person an ally for the content or the feelings. Identify differences, make them heard, acknowledge them, and involve everyone, create subgroups exploring and integrating the differences.

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Key techniques

  1. Ask an anyone else? to keep everyone included and focused at the task at hand, even when emotionally charged
  2. Explore the spectrum of views to develop a more grounded sense of what initial opposing consider relevant and uncover a continuum of opinions.
  3. Be alert for integrating statement leaps forward to move on after a near complete spectrum of views is on the table.
  4. Run a clarifying go-around to find out what to do next.


Suggestions for a better name

  • subgroup per perspective;
  • perspective subgroup;
  • functional subgroup.