Collaboration has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and it means different things to different people - teamwork, technology and even... treason. (Okay, so that last one might be a bit outdated!)
When it comes to Being: Collaboration, the focus is on getting stuff done through clear, conscious and constructive conversations.
So why is that important?
Organisations are networks of conversations.
In order for an organisation (or team) to get anything done, it needs to coordinate action - through its people - and the coordination of action requires conversations.
Now, if people were mechanical objects with a consistent way of speaking and listening to each other, this might be fine. But people are highly complex, idiosyncratic creatures whose speaking and listening are affected by an almost infinite range of influences that are unique to them. And despite all of the technological advances we've seen in the last few decades, the ability to hold effective conversations has failed to keep up (and some would say it's even declining).
Ineffective conversations cost time and money (think: unproductive meetings, unanswered phone calls and emails, etc), and they have the potential to create unnecessary friction that can erode trust and damage working relationships over time.
Being: Collaboration provides a range of training and coaching solutions that develop people's ability to communicate with purpose and impact, cultivate positive influence, and build sustainable relationships based on mutual trust and respect. These are not just platitudes but skills that can be developed; specifically, skills like:
- Positive Influence
- Courageous Conversations
- Feedback (and "Feedforward")
Being: Collaboration develops the skills to have conversations that are:
Clear: building the awareness and skills to speak (and write) in a way that enables others to understand what is being said (in other words, to build shared meaning)
- Conscious: developing the ability to align the purpose and structure of each conversation to suit the desired outcome
- Constructive: enabling people to have conversations that are focused on sharing perspectives and creating solutions in a collaborative manner
Case study: Working with the leadership team in the financial services industry to develop awareness of conversational effectiveness and design opportunities for more strategic conversations (i.e. more "on the business" conversations)
Case study: Working with a self-managed sales team in the financial services industry to develop a "feedback culture" within their business unit
Case study: Working with the legal team in a mining company to develop their ability to build trust with their internal and external stakeholders in order to deliver more proactive and relevant legal and commercial advice.
Case study: Working with a small but high-performing business to build trust and collaboration within the team through a blended approach of targeted training in courageous conversations, facilitated discussions and just-in-time coaching.
Being: Collaboration is not just about getting people to cooperate; it's about leveraging their differences in the process.
Diversity is not about being politically correct. Studies show that diversity can drive innovation.
But it's one thing to collaborate with people who think similarly; it's quite another to do so with people whose views and preferences run in different directions.
When most people think of diversity, they think of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, or ability/disability. But these are just the obvious ones. There's also occupational or professional diversity. Have you ever sat in on a discussion between Sales and Operations in a large construction company? Or Sales and Legal for that matter? Talk about cross-cultural communication!
Diversity is a big topic, so Being: Collaboration focuses on developing the conversational skills to:
- share perspectives in a way that legitimises differences
- treat differences as inputs to creativity and innovation
- solve problems in a way that harnesses the best of all perspectives to create an optimal outcome wherever possible.