The team has agreed …– the power of suggested recollection

I am not normally a cynic. I trust people’s good intentions. However, I am a little suspicious when an argument in favor or against a specific way of doing something boils down to: “we, the team, have agreed…” (or various flavors that use decided, concluded etc). It may very well be true of course. But all too often, someone has a personal opinion that she or he tries to strengthen by bringing the team’s will into the discussion.

I will not blindly accept this as a statement even less as a winning argument. Even if the team did declare or pledge something, it may not hold valid in this particular case. But I find out on many occasions that the team members are quite uncertain about whether they did in fact agree on this. And they certainly do not recall why that was. And they typically have different memories about it.

group of people using laptop computer

(Annie Spratt on –

To me a statement that invokes the team’s conviction can only be truly meaningful if the team have recorded their principle or decision or strong preference. If they have made clear to themselves – from that moment on to anyone else – what exactly they believe in and want to adhere to – and they write down why that is the case, then this something to very seriously take into consideration whenever debating something that concerns the team. No doubt about it.

But someone claiming to know the team’s long held and deeply felt position on anything – apparently out of thin air and with nothing to back it up – cannot be taken very seriously.

The team has agreed ...– the power of suggested recollection photo 1648473055769 de7ec88bf483?ixlib=rb 4.0

Jametlene Reskp on –

I have seen people very caught up in their own believes and repeating these believes as statements like “we the team think …”, “we the team believe…” and “we the team have decided to …”. And they kept repeating it until the team members started to believe it and repeat it. And when most of the team (the developers) are telling me (the architect) something, who am I to question them? Well, I will always question anyone – to understand first of all and perhaps to challenge.

In summary: if you as team truly believe that something is important as a guiding principle or a foundational choice – that is excellent! Embrace it, write down to be sure you all agree and remember correctly (not having to trust our imperfect memories) and record why again you think this is important. The context of the believe is crucial – because when the context changes, you may need to reconsider what the team thinks about this new context. Do not let well intending “true believers” trick you into accepting a team’s statement that never actually was the conviction of the team.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.