2020-07-15

Hamming Questions for Teams



Hamming Questions are prompts developed by Center for Applied Rationality to get you to think about the biggest problems in your life. Hamming Questions for Potted Plants is a variant of the original Hamming Questions. This is another variation of the Hamming Questions. If you haven’t already, read and complete these two first.

In this framing of Hamming Problems, you are a team. These questions are not for actual teams of people to answer. Let me know if you come up with a better name.

You are a team:
  • You are a team of mental modules each with different roles. You can think of yourself as a team of sub-agents — the different voices in your head.
  • You are a team of context-dependent versions of you that take turns being you: tired-You, socialising-You, etc.
  • You are a team of people each taking a turn at being you for a day. You-July-15th is a distinct person to You-July-16th, in small but definite ways.

To get the most out of these questions, set a 5-minute timer for each category to answer each question.

Weakest link

It is said a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. What is your weakest link? Who is not pulling their weight? Is work being avoided, delayed or done poorly?

Fairness

Team members can feel unhappy if the work is unevenly distributed. Is anyone under-worked or over-worked? Can the workload be rearranged to everyone’s benefit?

Common vision

Different goals within a team can lead to wasted effort and inefficiency. Is there a clear goal that everyone is working towards? Are all members convinced of the attainability and value of the goal? Do more or fewer compromises in your plans and actions need to be made?

Communication

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.― George Bernard Shaw

Is relevant information being retained and communicated to all the members of the team? Do all team members feel confident and safe sharing their views? Are there things left unsaid, buried truths or taboos against certain ideas? Do team members ask for help when needed?

Disagreements

Are there unresolved disagreements between team members? Are there reliable mechanisms for resolving problems, and are these used when necessary? Are disagreeing team members attempting to converge on the truth, or something else?
5 Tristan Cook: Hamming Questions for Teams Hamming Questions are prompts developed by Center for Applied Rationality to get you to think about the biggest problems in your life. Ham...
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