In some circumstances, the need to collaborate is clear. Without a system of people collaborating well, the work would not be possible, or the quality/efficiency/productivity/development of the work would be stifled in some way. When the need is high, our focus should be on creating cultures of psychological safety and interpersonal connection, the only foundation for effective collaboration.
But there may be circumstances when collaboration is not going to give us a better outcome. Or perhaps more accurately, the costs of collaboration are too high to warrant doing so.
And so my first question to teams I work with on their pathway to drive The Safe Space is,
Why should you collaborate?
When I ask this I get some beautiful textbook answers like ‘we can’t do it alone’, ‘our clients get a better service’, ‘we can drive greater customer response’. But I like to push a bit further as these are just the theory. I want to know the practical reasons we don’t collaborate. So I ask,
Why shouldn’t you collaborate?
When given space to discuss this idea openly, people are able to give the real blockers to collaboration.
For example, it often comes up that time is a cost to collaboration, and time is something we are short on. We often need to be vulnerable to increase collaboration, rely on each other more and potentially lose control. Collaboration can mean we lose the competitive advantage of ego.
So even though theoretically we think collaboration is a good idea, understanding the practice of why it isn't, gives us a good understanding of where we sit. Perhaps we will decide the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. If so, we can keep collaboration off our to-do-list! Alternatively, we may decide that collaboration is needed despite the disadvantages. This gives us a more authentic starting point if we want to get better at it.
Don’t collaborate unless you have to, and if you have to, learn to do it better (more on this in the next Silverlinings).
As ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Amy works with teams to drive courageous collaboration for remarkable achievements through her program The Safe Space. Contact us via the form below for more information or to make sure that your team or Division are booked in for 2019.