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What’s Better Than Collaboration to Transform Culture and Empower Innovation?

December 9, 2021

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Much has been written about the virtues of collaboration, lately largely driven by technology platforms that do, in fact, make collaboration easier.

However, whilst collaborating more easily via tech platforms such as Slack and Zoom and their many equivalents, does it mean that we get the desired results from such collaboration in the enterprise?

I assert that it isn’t necessarily so.

I can’t find any meaningful data on the topic.

I’ve seen one paper on collaboration claiming a 20% increase in productivity, but on closer inspection it was about happiness and connectedness, not collaboration.  It was by a tech platform.

Facebook connects billions of people without any data on effective collaboration.

Likewise with LinkedIn.

Connectedness is not collaboration.

Examining Google’s first page on “tips for collaborating”, I found one important word missing.

It was also missing from the tech platforms’ promoting collaboration software. 

I’ll come back to that in just a moment.

I believe that collaboration is just a ‘nice’ aspiration and doesn’t give meaningful results for these reasons:

  1. Collaboration was traditionally used to describe working with the “enemy”.
  2. Collaboration  is about individuals and teams working together on specific projects or tasks, yet in practice retaining their original identities, boundaries, behaviours and secrets!
  3. Collaboration in the workplace is a mere politeness because the current competition for talent, position, security and power is rampant in both the private and public sectors.
  4. That important word I referred to earlier that’s missing, is at its lowest level globally right now.

I advocate for pursuing a much higher arrangement than collaboration.

One that speaks to what we miss most.

One that speaks to who we really are.

That higher arrangement is CO-CREATION.

It requires that missing word: TRUST. 

We can collaborate without trust.

It requires we merge as ONE TEAM.

We can collaborate as individuals or silo teams working together, still hanging on  to our boundaries and precious secrets.

It requires LEADERSHIP that is consistent, transformational and situational.

We can collaborate with lower standards of leadership.

It requires we manage our EGO.

We can collaborate and maintain our egoic ways.

It requires we PRACTICE the above, consistently and correctly.

We can collaborate without practice.

We are all creators, having firstly created our lives and all its aspects.

Creativity is not the exclusive domain of the leadership or key personnel or the ‘A’ team.

There are amazing examples of co-creation in the arts, in nature and in our love life.

To be fair there are great examples of co-creation in the private and public sectors too, though rare and confined to those who invest heavily in trust building as a primary purpose.

For most of us, we haven’t had the shared will, courage, patience and love to bring that part of us into our work – yet.

We could make that our shared mission, to bring that which we all have in us, our ability and desire to CO-CREATE, into our workplace by:

  1. Giving, earning and keeping TRUST.
  2. Becoming ONE TEAM sharing everything respectfully.
  3. LEADING with a consistent transformational and situational outlook.
  4. Better managing of our individual and collective EGO.
  5. And consistent correct PRACTICE of the above – because it can only occur if the practice is executed consistently.

What else could we do to create real CO-CREATION?

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