The Anatomy of Collaboration
My entire career has been leading and participating in teams. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that most of our lives are teams.
- Religious/volunteer endeavors
. . . we live (and die) by teams.
So why do so many organizations/departments collaborate so poorly? If so much of life is team oriented why do we let politics, personal achievement, insecurities take priority over team?
Our world continues to change and evolve. Since the 1800s we’ve moved from fields to factories and from those factories to corporate towers. A study of each of those evolutions reveals that while team was important, it wasn’t incubated.
- “Do your work, do it well and go home.”
- “Do your work well and you get a prize, do it poorly and you get fired.”
- “Keep your head down. We’ll do the thinking for you.”
Each of the above come from management playbooks from the past. Trust for the individual was sapped from the workforce and collaboration was abhorred. And, even though ignored, collaboration bled through every process within every organization. (Think Model T assembly line, think the invention of the silicon chip and computers, think about the internet). Teams will find a way, even amidst leadership against their creation.
So if management of years gone by was command and control, carrot and stick, success despite fear, what is the new model? What is working today? Jeff Jarvis discusses what’s working today in his book “What Would Google Do”. Today’s companies treat employees and customers much in the same way: as contributors to their vision. A 3 legged stool (business, customer, employee) that is constantly changing and growing based on mutual feedback and a passion for the vision. No where in there did I mention respect (I abhor that word only slightly less than “empowerment”). I did mention vision, contributors, equality between company, customer and employee. These are the keys to building platforms (another Jarvis obvervation about the new economy companies).
Maybe the most telling quote from the book is what Jarvis referrs to as “Jarvis’ First Law“. It goes:
“Give the people control and we will use it; don’t and you will lose us.”
I think this applies as much to the employee/employer relationship as it does to customer/company. Trust us and give us a vision and get the hell out of our way. Give us access to the customer. Give the customer access to us. TOGETHER we’ll do amazing things.
One plus one has never equaled more.