I see an intention to collaborate coming from the top of most organisations, integrated into visions, strategies and plans. It is widely accepted nowadays that, in most organisations, there is value in collaboration – both collaboration internally, between departments and regions, and collaboration externally, with customers and suppliers. But it appears that the reality of this intention is often a long way from the productivity and innovation benefits hoped for. Exhaustive mediocrity is caused when groups are unable to make choices and try to accommodate all views, resulting in everything being done at the lowest common denominator level.
Last week I was part of a team leading a collaborative leadership development programme. One of the insights from this group was that few people experience genuine collaboration both in the workplace and outside. Without this experience, the mindset and skills are not developed for collaboration to become a reality.
The good news is that collaborative muscle can be developed. By creating positive collaborative experiences we can shift mindsets from negotiating to collaborating. Once people are in the collaborative mindset then they want to learn the skills to support this way of working.
I expect you know what I am going to say now…. one of the easiest places to start creating collaborative working is in meetings. Meetings already exist in most organisations and they are the everyday places where people experience collaboration (or not). So, give it a go…. collaborate effectively… one meeting at a time!