Bruce Griffiths - OSI Newsletter
For this issue of the Navigator we've asked our OSI Strategic Partner (and friend), Winsor Jenkins of Portland, Oregon to discuss a favorite topic of his (and ours) - collaboration. Winsor is a global expert on the subject, having written The Collaborator (DW Publishing, 2007) and more recently contributed a chapter on the need to collaborate in Focus on Them (ATD Press, 2018). Both of us agree that today's complex and fast changing digital, global, and millennial world demand leaders that have a default setting of "I'm willing to collaborate" when they approach issues and problems. It's the ONLY way to ensure commitment to informed decisions. And now, here's Winsor ...
The Collaborative Imperative
by Winsor Jenkins
Can we all agree that the world today is more complex...and that we are in unprecedented times?
Can we all agree that the world today challenges us to find new ways to work together?
Can we all agree that our actual survival as crew members on space ship earth may be at risk if we do not create new ways to collaborate and work in teams to solve the challenges in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Changing and Ambiguous) world?
If you said yes to these three questions, please read on.
Next, can we all agree that the leadership myth of the "lone ranger" is dead in today's complex, fast-moving VUCA world? That is, the leadership required in a world demanding global interdependence is far beyond the scope of a single leader.
Again, if you said yes, let's talk about what needs to change to shift the focus from developing individual leaders for solving the world's greatest challenges - to developing leadership teams who are able to generate more effective, value-adding solutions by applying a
collaborative mindset (and skill-set) that practices team interdependence.
underlying assumptions (or beliefs) do we bring to the table when it comes to the potential of people to get the work done? Are they negative or are they positive? Two important assumptions underpinning a collaborative mindset are (1) positive expectations about human nature (sometimes called Theory Y assumptions, i.e.,
people are basically good, and they do want to contribute and do well, versus a belief that they are naturally lazy and need constant supervision), and (2) an win-win mindset, i.e., I believe in abundance, and have the attitude that there is plenty to go around (versus a need to compete for scarce resources, and win in every arena).
values do we hold to support team performance? These may be closely aligned with underlying assumptions. Are they individual values or are they team values that support collaboration? Because most people
don't know how to collaborate to produce win-win outcomes in organizations with cultures that promote individual performance over team performance, the challenge is changing both individual and organizational mindsets for producing win-win outcomes versus win-lose outcomes.
operating principles will the team adopt to harness the power of connections across the team's network, applying a
collaborative mindset, to produce win-win outcomes? These are shared principles the team applies to promote team interdependence (along with related processes and protocols). These are principles that team leaders must make explicit, and are part of the makeup of exceptional teams like clear mission, roles, and goals. Leaders need to prescribe cooperation, communication, and consensus decision making.
competencies are in place to support collaboration? Described as collaboration's
skill-sets, these are competencies focused on collaboration that are aligned with the team's operating principles - and that can be learned. These are competencies like Team Player, Conflict Management, Creativity, Team Management, Creative Problem Solving, and Communicativeness that can be made explicit as hiring and training standards.
And fifth what
commitments are you willing to make to
team-coaching for developing and sustaining performance improvement? Based on research, team-coaching is necessary for sustained team improvement. Without it, most likely, the team will struggle. Many leaders see themselves as only responsible for the task/work agenda, but the best leaders also see themselves as stewards of talent, and continuously coach and mentor staff to build the best, most collaborative, teams.
The end-game here is to develop a collaborative team platform with principles, values, assumptions, and competencies that help define your culture and ensure collaborative mindsets and skillsets. This platform is then used to drive all hiring, promotion, training & development decisions in your organization.
And finally, yes, we do lament a seeming lack of collaborative leadership role models to emulate at the top of many of our political and commercial organizations. But like the story of the poet and the scientist confronting a mass of stranded starfish on a beach at high tide (the scientist is pessimistic about making a difference, and the poet begins throwing starfish back into the sea over the surf line saying over and over, "made a difference for THAT one!") you can make a difference for your team!