Ever since Swiss psychologist, Hermann Rorschach, introduced his test using a series of inkblots to uncover patterns of thought disorder, the world has been even more fascinated with how people bring order and structure to randomness.
The Rorschach test has become something of a cultural meme to explain how similar people bring a wide variety of interpretations to any social event. When no right or wrong answers exist, our conclusions suggest a great deal about how we orient to and see the world.
Taking an event and treating it like an inkblot is an important team activity. By exploring how people make sense of the event, we begin to learn how others think and what assumptions they bring to the conversation.
Exploring the interpretations different team members have of a seemingly random but important event is a great way to encourage open dialogue, and it allows team members to better understand one another. What specifically has occurred? Why did it occur? What does it mean? The dialogue that follows will be both eye-opening and insightful. Some conversations will go deep and excavate how people define everyday words and ideas, while others will illustrate the positive or negative frames we use to inform our views.
A team Rorschach test can confirm that meaning is in the eye of the beholder and people see what they have trained themselves to see. That’s the point, and it is a powerful reminder. Specifically, because there are no right answers, this understanding goes a long way toward creating the mutual respect and trust so important to high-performing teams. What do you see in that inkblot of a situation?