22. Health diffuses resistance
When I refer to mental health I know I step into sensitive territory. At Solspace we learned early on and we often repeat the mantra, "Everyone has something." By this, we mean that everyone has at least one human frailty that we must watch carefully and guard against, yet also support.
Everyone has some sort of psychological issue they deal with. Most of us have many. A team in search of good flow and low friction learns how to adapt to one another's psychological frailties. They support one another. Sometimes support means covering for one another and filling in the gaps where others are deficient. Sometimes it means recognizing in others an issue that needs more serious help and supporting that person on the journey.
On my own team, it is widely known that I am "not allowed to touch the money." I have a frailty, a psychological issue that makes it easy for me to lose money if it means not disappointing someone. When it comes to money I am conflict-averse. I tend to sabotage myself and my team. My team has learned this. They have brought evidence to me and had me confront it many times. They have worked with me to set up safeguards so that I do not hurt the team with my own issue. My problems with money cause friction for the team, but the team has learned to work around it, to divert the flow in a more frictionless direction.
Some people on a team may have low self-confidence. The reasons for that are not usually as important as recognizing the fact in the present and working with it. Someone with low self-confidence generates friction with their lack of faith in their abilities. They ask for and often get extra help and attention to complete a task that they really could complete on their own with a little perseverance and faith. Nevertheless, their lack of confidence creates more work for others on the team and disrupts the flow. A good team will recognize this and proactively position that person to feel confident when taking on a challenging new task. The person will be supported and encouraged so that their lack of confidence does not dominate and take over as a disruption to team flow.
Physical health is also important to low resistance flow. Team members who prioritize appropriate rest, exercise, diet, and bodily care can sustain a healthy pace of work over a long period of time. Someone who neglects their health can become ill more often, creating friction within the team by causing others to have to cover their work. Someone who does not exercise regularly misses out on the stress-relieving benefits it imparts. The stress adds up, comes to work, and lands on the team, causing tremendous amounts of friction. Someone who adheres to a healthy diet feeds their body and their mind beneficial fuel. The mind functions better and the body is more reliable, resulting in less resistance and greater productivity.
Relationship health is also a powerful force within a team, a powerful force for reducing friction and resistance.
One of our most successful engagements was with an NGO in Northern California. Our client had been with us for a few years and had brought a modest number of web projects to us over time. We had one of our best strategists and developers assigned to the engagement. Things were going along in a steady way, but then the client organization hired a new person on their side and tasked them with using the web to fulfill the core mission of the organization. My strategist and theirs hit it off. In just a few days they had found that they had a deep working rapport for one another. They had a natural, healthy relationship. They had fun together. They made fun of each other. They made one another better each time they talked. As they planned and brain-stormed, they made one another's ideas better. Their fruitful interaction and the depth of their natural friendship enabled the collective teams to launch several highly complex but highly successful web properties. Their relationship was healthy and frictionless, it resulted in prosperity for the organization, prosperity for my company, and above all else, value and satisfaction for the end-customer.