Appropriate Disturbances: Team Development in Sports and Business
In this article, we will present an anthropological research project that explores possible benefits of comparing a professional handball club and a software company. More specifically, we turn our attention to the phenomenon of “disturbances.” In workplace contexts, disturbances are most often experienced as hindering focus and immersion, thus having a negative impact on job performance. However, by exploring everyday practices in the Danish professional handball club Bjerringbro-Silkeborg Handball, it becomes apparent that (former) head coach Peter Bredsdorff Larsen deliberately uses what he calls “appropriate disturbances” to provoke change and give direction to processes of team development. This causes us to ask one of the fundamental questions of our overall research project: what form would such appropriate disturbances take in a software company? In an effort to explore this question, we describe our experiments with the concept of “reflection time” as an appropriate disturbance to team development in the software company Systematic. We argue that such disturbances can create moments and spaces in which the potential for improvement and development emerges through a temporary destabilization of everyday life in the workplace.
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