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Last updated:

April 8, 2022


6 months

This course includes:

6 months

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

6 months


This course looks at how teams travel’ together on a journey of development. Those journeys are hardly ever smooth. The course encourages you to recognize differences and challenges amongst individuals in the team who are pulling in different directions. It will help you identify where such challenges can be embraced for the benefit of your team and your organization.


Team development is about the team moving from a current state (what the team is currently: its outputs; its culture; its ways of working) into a new state. This course, Difference, and challenge in teams look at how teams ‘travel’ on that journey of development, how they get to the new, better, state. The course encourages you to recognize the challenge of individuals within the team pulling in different directions – and to identify where such challenges can be embraced. The course opens with a metaphor drawn from nature – something to bear in mind as you think about your own team issues. There follow three mini case studies – interspersed with reflective activities – which consider different situations faced by managers who want to build better teams. The course ends with a couple of more extensive readings on the use of 'dialectical approaches' – tools for harnessing ‘creative conflict’.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Recognize and value ‘challenge’ in teams
  • Understand how to harness creative tensions for the good of the team
  • Recognize team interactions that nurture trust and strengthen a team’s capacity to support itself and innovate.

Course Curriculum

    • The river basin and the bee colony 00:20:00
    • The river basin 01:00:00
    • The bee colony 00:40:00
    • ‘Meetings often descend into all-out war!’ 00:50:00
    • Encouraging healthy dialogue 02:00:00
    • ‘X wants one thing, Y wants another, Z yet another – they’re all too obstinate to give way!’ 06:00:00
    • ‘Is compromise good enough?’ 02:10:00
    • Dialectical approaches 05:00:00
    • We need to stretch ourselves 01:10:00
    • Conclusion 00:50:00

About the instructor

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Open University UK