Product Development is all about creating, growing, and nurturing healthy relationships. Imagine a workplace where:

  • We take 100 percent personal responsibility for our own feelings — without turning to blame or avoidance.
  • We commit to learning with one another when conflicts arise. Conflict happens, yet we do not withdraw or give ourselves up to avoid conflict.
  • We are openly affectionate. Hugging is more normal than a cold handshake.
  • Laughing and playing happens on the team, with delight.
  • The team supports one another to achieve their own highest good.
  • Everyone on the team feels valued.
  • We value the customer.

If this describes both you and your team, then you likely have a healthy, growing relationship with the team, and perhaps this is what you learned while struggling to navigate the complex waters of product development. But many people not have this experience. You might have seen this instead:

  • Silence on the team signaling withdrawal, resistance and/or giving themselves up to control, or avoiding conflict.  (Even anger is better than silence, because with anger we have a place to start a dialogue.)
  • People blame one another. This is most often seen during a retrospective when fault is directed to a person rather than the team swarming to improve process.
  • Members of the team turning to various addictions, such as food, alcohol, drugs, perhaps gaming, to avoid feeling and taking responsibility for their feelings.
  • Not knowing how to lovingly resolve conflict due to being closed to learning with one another.
  • Not being there for one another. Not supporting one another’s highest good.
  • Not laughing, playing or showing any affection. Watch your team – what physical proximity do they tolerate? (I’ve seem remote workers with much closer proximity than a team under emotional strife.)
  • Control, or wanting to control others, runs rampant.
  • We’re not sure who the customer is.

If this second scenario describes you and your team, then you/your team members may be coming into their product development relationships with some excess baggage. Some could even be immediately triggered into anger, withdrawal, compliance or resistance when conflict arises, creating a situation where conflict doesn’t get resolved.

Relationships are not easy. If you want a healthy, growing team relationship while charting the waters of product development, you’ll have to be willing to work at it to heal the team (and yourself.)  Instead of calling this a problem, let’s call it a journey towards healthy product development.

Step one, value yourself. Step two, value one another.  If you don’t value yourselves, or one another, it’s doubtful you value the customer.