Assumptive audience:

For those working on a team that need a solution for getting unstuck. There is an importance of collaborative work and a preference to sharing information rather than hoarding. You’re working as a team; you're playing basketball, not golf.

When we’re stuck

Have you ever been stuck for a couple hours or even days? You've had little to no progress to show, and frustration is high.

You find yourself banging your head against the keyboard with no solution in sight.

We get it. You need a concrete strategy for combating getting stuck.

That's where 5on2 comes in.

Try a 5on2 if...

  • You’re stuck on a task for over an hour
  • You’re concerned that others on the team have solved this before
  • You know you have some ideas on how to begin but have never done this work before
  • You have a team that could benefit from more collaboration
  • Your team would benefit from a more cross-functional work

We’ve found when people inject the 5on2 into their team’s working culture, uniform project processes are reinforced and you avoid solving the same problems multiple times.

What is a 5on2?

A 5on2 is simple, it’s a 5 minute conversation on any task that will take more than 2 hours.

The 5on2 highlights preferred processes and shares project details. The 5on2 advocates for deep work and autonomy.

Before the work starts, discuss your upcoming task with someone. This short conversation can save you so much time by not heading in the wrong direction.

5on2 in action

In a 5on2, you'll talk about the upcoming work with a co-worker, but it's not just saying your to-do list. You’ll briefly summarize the work, discuss which tools to use (Google Docs, Asana, development packages), and collaborate on what steps to take next.

1. Discuss options

Ideally, each person will offer solutions and discuss whether they will work. Discussing options is good practice for everyone to work through. While we discover new solutions, we'll learn how each other thinks. This osmosis effect breeds successful autonomous work from all who brain-share.

When you train with someone who is more robust and faster, their knowledge and energy are shared.

2. Brain share

Like climbing a mountain, you'll have many paths to choose from, but each one might need different equipment or might take longer. Take a moment to share any suggestions on how to finish the work ahead.

Forming your suggestions as questions will help dial up the collaborative tone and leave room for your teammate to offer other options.

  • "I solved something like this before. Would you mind if I shared my notes with you?"
  • "This may not be new to you, but have you tried taking notes when you get stuck?"
  • "Want to set a time to talk near EOD? Maybe 3:30 pm?"

3. Take notes

Don’t expect to remember all the details about the work ahead of you. There are many opportunities that can distract and cause us to forget. Record the options that were brought up, and any decisions made on how to proceed. You might find out about login accounts or resources that already exist that you can use.

4. A 5on2 Reminder

At the end of our team's daily standup, ask, "who has 5on2s?" so we can surface and schedule those. It should be rare to go a whole day without some brain sharing with another team member.

🎬 Actionable

Introduce your team to 5on2s. How about a script?

"Hey, I found out about 5on2s. It's a 5-minute conversation about any work today that will take 2 hours or more. The goal is to spread information around the team and help keep us on the best path possible. 

"I want to try it and am happy to be the test subject. I'll ask if Jenny will 5on2 with me right after this. We'll talk through the tasks I have next. 

"Tomorrow, we'll report on how today went and answer any questions. Then Jenny and I can separately 5on2 with someone else."

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