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Midnight Lunch: The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison's Lab by Sarah Miller Caldicott

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Chapter 5

Phase 3

Coherence—Building Coherent Teams

David Bohm, a Hungarian immigrant who contributed his deep knowledge of theoretical physics to the Manhattan Project and later served as a professor at the University of California, penned a series of intriguing essays recently bound into an anthology titled On Dialogue. Among the pithy thoughts Bohm pursues in these essays is coherence and its role as a formative team dynamic. Viewing coherence as an experience that arises from “sharing a common content,”1 Bohm emphasizes that coherence can be created even if not all parties on a team agree. He describes it as an organic rather than a static force: “It’s a harmony of the individual and the collective, in which the whole constantly moves toward coherence.”

Bohm recognized that coherence can be difficult to achieve even in small groups due to the preconceived roles its members desire to play. “Some people want to assert themselves. . . . Some people adopt the dominant role, some adopt the role of the weak, powerless person who can be dominated.” For Bohm, coherence is optimized when there is a balance in the contributions of the team members rather than dominance by one. The dynamic interplay between team members engaging deeply at some times yet probing or remaining silent at other times offers a unique signature for how coherence operates. For coherence to thrive, he states, there is “a subtle situation in between, where you are not jumping in too fast, nor holding back too much.” ...

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