The Stickler Complex occurs when the team overuse the Conductor team role.
When used appropriately, the Conductor team role is used to introduce organisation and a logical structure into the way things are done. Conductors organise and systematise the world around them, establishing appropriate plans, identifying and implementing the correct procedures, and then endeavouring to make sure they are followed. They try to ensure that roles and responsibilities are properly defined and that appropriate resources or skills are available to undertake the work assigned.
If the Conductor team role is used to excess, however, and Group-Think sets in, then the team make the procedures and rules too rigid. They adhere too closely to the 'letter of the law' and depart from the 'spirit of the law'. They stifle spontaneous creativity by trying to structure it and impose a procedure on everything they do where flexibility or individual variations are not allowed. They may also have such a task focus that they are unaware of the detrimental impact the rules and procedures have on individuals and their feelings.
The complex is given the name "Stickler" because the team are unyielding in their insistence on following the rules.
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 in various ways, such as:
- Giving the team a feedback process that identifies and illustrates the negative consequences of their excessive adherence to rules
- Scheduling 'unscheduled' time into meetings or workshops, having an aim but no agenda for that period, and facilitating a discussion that produces valuable new ideas
- Helping the team to cope better with exceptions to the rules and see 'flexibility' in a more positive light - not trying to make them abandon their processes but to adapt them better to real life variations
The Stickler Complex results from rigidity in the team's use of extraverted Thinking.
See all sixteen team complexes.