We live in a world that has been dominated by a centralized “command and control” model for centuries – and by institutional cultures that are, therefore, anything but collaborative.
Tragically, for example, in the recent ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, there was poor collaboration before someone with control authority made the decision to proceed without adequate safety precautions. That situation is a clear example of how a focus on collaboration would have produced a positive result.
What kind of culture do you have in your workplace? Is collaboration more the rule or the exception? How do you lead your life? Do you tend to be more of a dominator or a collaborator?
Clearly, sometimes decisive action is needed; and there is sometimes good reason for a leader to make a final judgment call. How she or he does so – with collaboration or without – is often determinative of the quality of the decision and of the effectiveness of the culture.
What changes make sense in your life regarding collaboration? Where would expanded collaboration make the most difference to you and others in your workplace, family, and community?
Collaboration is likely a big part of successful evolution. People or animals who were not collaborative or cooperative had less chance of being in the safety of community and, therefore, they were more exposed to risk and possible harm.
Charles Darwin wrote:
“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too), those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Please think about times in your life where collaboration has been useful – and has moved forward the effort in which you were involved. Can you observe times when collaboration allowed your group, team or family to thrive when, if there were not collaboration, events could have taken a turn for the worse?
Is there truth to the notion that the “non-collaborative” would have been excluded from successful groups? What are the implications for you in our present day? How can you discern that collaboration advances the evolution of any group to which you belong?
Among the tremendous potential benefits of collaboration is SYNERGY. The common definition of synergy is 1 + 1 = 3, which is a mathematical impossibility, yet, a reality that all of us have experienced.
The combination of the parts be greater than their sum. The old saying that “two heads are better than one” makes the point that it’s in the combination where the real treasure lies. This is synergy.
Where have you experienced synergy? Do you realize that one person cannot, by definition, produce synergy on her or his own? Consider this: With that specific amazing partner, that all-in team, that group of athletes in common pursuit: how was the combination greater in effect than the sum of its parts? Is synergy an energy that you actively seek to create, access and grow? Why or why not?
Who do you think with in meaningful and high level ways? What is the nature of that relationship(s)? Are you and they able to be completely and constructively honest as you consider mutual opportunities, issues and problems?
We can never directly see our own faces nor the backs of our bodies. Each of us has literal blind spots built into our experience of being human. Often, the best way that we have to reality-check ourselves is to be reflected in a literal mirror for physical reflection and / or a “figurative” mirror in the form of another person for feedback about our choices.
Last week, we discussed trusting. This week, trusting expands into collaboration because trust is an essential foundation for effective collaboration.
Do you cultivate collaboration? How critical do you consider collaboration in moving your vision forward? What are your conditions for effective collaboration? Are you a good collaborator for others?