The Rut Complex occurs when the team underuses the Explorer team role.
When used appropriately, the Explorer team role is used to promote exploration of new and better ways of doing things. Explorers uncover hidden potential in people, things or situations. They break new ground, and are often looking one step beyond the current situation to pursue unexplored avenues, until all the possibilities have been exhausted. Explorers often challenge the status quo and experiment with the introduction of change, to see if the situation can be improved or new potential uncovered
If the Explorer team role is used insufficiently, however, and it becomes a 'No-Go-Area' for the team, then they fail to recognise the potential benefits that change might bring. They continue to do what they have done and don't experiment with any change where the outcome is not fully certain. They may reject good ideas with hidden potential because the proposal doesn't contain enough certainty for them. Because of their over-reliance on "what's worked before", they fail to improve their performance. New opportunities may arise around them, but they may fail even to spot them let alone exploit them.
The complex is given the name "Rut" because the team find difficulty in changing direction, just like a vehicle whose wheels are 'stuck in a rut'.
Complexes can be very difficult to deal with. See our general page on Complexes for more information.
A good facilitator or consultant can help the team address the Rut Complex in various ways, such as:
- Take the team through a risk analysis comparing various changes with the status quo, ensuring they get a balanced view (ie the facilitator needs to emphasise the risks of lack of change, and the benefits of change, both when it succeeds and when it doesn't)
- Set or reframe goals and targets that enable them to introduce change in a way that doesn't feel uncontrolled, but also rewards the team for taking more risks. Ideally, the facilitator should also gain senior management support for this approach.
- Identifying a team coach or mentor close to, but outside, the team who can help them recognise potential opportunities, eg: by pointing them out when they arise, and encourage them to experiment with change
The Rut Complex results from the team's rigidity in their avoidance of extraverted iNtuition.
See all sixteen team complexes.