Are You Ready To Start Playing A Peer-To-Peer Game With Your Team?

Anna Margolis
8 min readMay 29, 2020

In yesterday’s post we touched upon how, over and above the potential for using it as a method for equity distribution or resource allocation, there are a whole host of other benefits to introducing peer-to-peer ratings, not least of which is how it can support us to train ourselves out of our hierarchical conditioning into becoming the kind of people who can consistently and reliably operate within a peer-to-peer culture.

We started to explore how our hierarchical conditioning can all too easily get in the way of our ability to fully show up as an equal or usefully contributing member of our team once we start playing in a more fast-paced, consistently creative, adaptable and distributed 𝐻𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑦.

And how, over time, if not addressed, these dynamics can create underlying tensions that can either cause the company or project to break or blossom (depending on if and how they are moved through).

In this post we’ll explore other kinds of common challenging invisible team dynamics that can lead a team to break or blossom, what it takes for a group to consistently thrive in a peer-to-peer culture and I’ll introduce you to the tool that our team created to support us in navigating this terrain together.

𝐎𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐈𝐧𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐃𝐲𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐜𝐬

Do you ever:

(A) Have a hard time giving feedback to the people in your group without someone having a hissy fit, getting triggered or perceiving you as “the bad guy”?;

(B) Feel like you’re treading on eggshells around other group members because none of the uncomfortable personal or interpersonal stuff is being spoken to (and that’s massively impacting your group’s ability to be consistently responsive or creative)?;

(C) Feel like you’re in a consistent untenable power struggle with one or more people in your group, that doesn’t get spoken to or moved through?;

(D) Experience someone in the group constantly pulling people aside to share an issue they have with someone else in the group, but they’re never bringing it directly to the person?;

(E) Feel continually frustrated by someone consistently underperforming and wanting an opportunity to address it collectively, without all of the onus being on you?; or

(F) Notice that members of the group aren’t speaking to the issues they’re experiencing because they’re attached to the money they’re earning and afraid of the risk of losing it.

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then rest assured you’re not alone.

There are all sorts of things that we’re accustomed to sweeping under the rug or keeping tight lipped about so as not to rock the boat, risk being abandoned, rejected or having our resources cut off.

But pushing them down or sweeping them aside isn’t actually addressing them, and like pinching a water hose, when the tension eventually grows big enough to bust through to the surface, it’s likely to have considerably more force and risk having a bigger impact than if we’d addressed the issue earlier on before it snowballed.

𝐒𝐨 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐃𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐓𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐏𝐞𝐞𝐫-𝐭𝐨-𝐏𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞?

Even in my own team, despite us having awareness of the types of relationship dynamic challenges we would face and our best efforts to navigate them consciously, we 𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑙𝑙 found ourselves slipping into many of the same grooves I’ve already outlined here and in Part 1.

Because simply by virtue of choosing to enact a Vision by starting a business or project with a small group of people, this stuff is simply par for the course.

Especially if, as we’ve talked about, we’re seeking to establish the kind of regenerative culture that is a departure from the existing paradigm and aligned with the culture and characteristics of a more beautiful world, then anything that’s incongruent with that will come up as a tension to be resolved among us en route to embodying that vision or new world.

So, if you’re in a team or you’re embarking on a collective endeavor, know that you can anticipate that tensions will naturally arise from your:

- Cultural and family conditioning;

- Belief systems;

- Values;

- Past trauma;

- Communication and leadership styles;

- Perceptions; and

- Ingrained habits

and will likely bump up against the equivalent phenomena in the other members of the group.

So for the group to stay connected, come through these tensions intact, and continue moving toward the actualization of your Shared Vision, these tensions simply need to be navigated by the group and released in order to restore the connection within the group.

That means that:

(1) There would be space within the culture for these things to be open heartedly addressed;

(2) In that space, rather than festering, the tensions would ideally be surfaced and spoken to by whoever it’s alive for;

(3) Anyone that it relates to would then be aware of it and have an opportunity to receive the feedback and also respond;

(4) The experience would be witnessed by other members of the team who can then also offer their perspectives into the mix;

(5) Any emotion related to the tension could be expressed and/or felt, witnessed, moved through and released;

(6) Any responsibility or empathy for the impact could be addressed; and

(7) Hearts can come back to a space of being open and receptive to one another.

All that said, I know what you’re probably thinking…..

“𝐻𝑜𝑙𝑦 𝑠ℎ*𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑠 𝑎 𝑙𝑜𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑑𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑎 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛.”

𝗘𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗶𝗳, 𝗯𝘆 𝘃𝗶𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝘄𝗲’𝗿𝗲 𝘂𝗻𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝘄𝗲’𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝘂𝘁 𝗼𝗳𝗳; 𝘀𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗼 𝘄𝗲 𝗿𝗮𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗱𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗲𝗿𝗼𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗲?


“𝐼’𝑣𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑡 𝑑𝑜𝑒𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑡𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑘 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑒𝑠𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒.”

𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝗳 𝘄𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗮 𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘀𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗿-𝘁𝗼-𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻’𝘁 𝘂𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗶𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸.

In a Heterarchy, it’s therefore valuable to have space dedicated to both forging the deep bonds that have you care enough about each other to stick in it (through sharing your personal stories, creating your Shared Values and cultivating your Shared Vision, as well as celebrating the wins and enjoying fun experiences together)….


….tending to the bonds between us by having regular time to address what’s, NATURALLY, coming up.

Which is why, in our team, in an effort to establish and maintain more equal relationships among the members of the group, we decided to create a system that would make the process of giving and receiving feedback smoother, more commonplace and more natural;

One that could surface the invisible tensions that so often break groups apart, to ensure that they could be navigated together and bring us back into functioning harmony.

Which is why we created an app that:

- Supports a culture of distributed feedback;

- Provides a pressure release mechanism for any tensions that are building up within the group;

- Empowers each member of the group to address tensions directly with each other; and

- Allows us a group to track and make visible progress around relational coherence and group harmony.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐩𝐩 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐈𝐭 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬

There’s a whole web page dedicated to the App, where you can download it and learn how it works for those who are ready to play in this space, so I’ll keep this as a high level overview here.

In essence, the App was designed to support the cultivation of emergent Collective Intelligence of a group, by supporting the group to create the cultural conditions that will allow for it “𝑡𝑜 𝑓𝑢𝑛𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑦,” and for that harmony to be established, maintained and observed with continuity over time.

If you’re curious to know how it works (see the attached images), the first step is taken when someone in the group creates a “Sphere” to represent your team or organism and invites the other members of the group to it.

Once someone has created a Sphere, anyone in the group can set the frequency of the rating adjustment periods (e.g. as daily or weekly).

The App then empowers all the participants to adjust the ratings for the other participants in their Sphere.

A tension adjustment is essentially a peer-to-peer rating mechanism.

Participants simply adjust the tension (from 1–100) for each participant in your Sphere to reflect how you feel they have been showing up and contributing in the Sphere for that period.

Each period the data collects the feedback anonymously, compiles it and reflects it back via the coherence or harmony graphic, that offers a visual representation of the relational tension that’s present amongst the group.

The tension history records the different tension ratings among the group over time.

Following the publishing of the graphic, the team gets notified by the app to get together in a meeting (that our team calls a Sweat Lodge meeting), where each person has an opportunity to speak to and respond to the ratings adjustments that they have received, or that they have given to others, within the app.

This experience creates a talking point for the group to move and express any underlying tension or emotion, be witnessed in that experience, see if anyone shares their perspective and become emotionally current (and thus more present and available) with the other members of the group.

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐊𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐁𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐔𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐩𝐩

- Know that no one else can tell you a “right way” to do it

- Anticipate that it could get vulnerable

- Anticipate you may be uncomfortable at times

- Anticipate that the feedback might not always be rosey (and that the truth may hurt sometimes)

- Know that people could get triggered or upset at times

- Anticipate that voices might get raised

- Enjoy feeling closer and more connected to your team mates than ever before

- Enjoy feeling more alive than you ever have at work

- Look forward to it impacting your other relationships positively

- Watch things get better as you keep doing it

- Experience more creative conversations as a result

- Observe it skyrocket your business’ productivity and innovation

So if you’re ready to start playing with a peer-to-peer rating app in your team, either type “YES!” in the comments below or DM me and I’ll be happy to send you a link to where you can download it (you can also find it on the App store).



Anna Margolis

As a former lawyer, Anna merges material world memories, tales of transformation and embodied experience in articulating the future of collaboration