This paper proposes a framework through which emergent disagreements during design team meetings may be classified by their tendency to reinforce or challenge the status quo. We investigate the use of the framework in measuring the effects of these disagreements on team productivity. The Interaction Dynamics Notation (IDN) [1] provides the basis for identifying disagreements through blocking behavior. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation (A-I) Theory [2] is used to classify the style of a Block as Adaptive (status quo-preserving) or Innovative (status quo-challenging). Emergent disagreements like Blocks are potentially risky during team meetings, because they obstruct the flow of discussion. However, certain styles of Blocks, as classified using A-I Theory, may be better suited to idea generation and thus, be worth the risk.

This paper addresses the following questions: (1) Can IDN Blocks be reliably classified using A-I Theory constructs? (2) How do different styles of Blocks impact productivity (e.g., the generation of ideas) during design meetings? A set of 104 Blocks observed in 14 academic teams during design ideation sessions was coded using the proposed framework and reliably determined to be Adaptive, Innovative, or Neither. Blocks were not entirely inhibitory and led to new design ideas under certain conditions. Neither Adaptive nor Innovative Blocks led to more efficient generation of ideas. Innovative Block sequences had greater variance in length than Adaptive Block sequences, while Deflected Blocks more frequently led to idea generation than Overcome or Unresolved Blocks. This research has implications for the productivity of design teams in their problem solving and decision making across settings in academia and industry.

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