Collaboration is a word used daily in business lingo and is often taken for granted in a lot of business settings. The definition of collaboration by Webster is “to work with another person or group to achieve or do something.” It sounds like an expected behavior of human nature. But think again.
I am going to say something bold, and that is collaboration does not come naturally and must be consciously encouraged.
I want to share with you an experience that I went through while attending a change management workshop with approximately 20 people in attendance. We did a group exercise in which the group was split into four divisions.
- Hat Inc. is a hat manufacturer in Canada
- A national hat dealer (client) wants to introduce a new flagship hat for each division (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto)
- The client wants the hats to be attractive and practical
- Profitability of each design is determined by cloth used, size adjustment mechanism & complexity of graphic design
- Each division was given 5 minutes to design one flagship hat.
- Four distinct, beautiful, and attractive hat designs
- Variation in profitability (or loss!) between divisions
- Zero to minimal collaboration between the four divisions
- Competition between the four divisions on which division had the best design
During this exercise, people felt pressure (5 minutes to complete the task), and in these moments, collaboration was minimal.People will also often call this ‘tunnel-vision,’ defined as the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view, which leads to ‘silos’ forming.A real-life example that some people may relate to is in combat fighting, where two individuals are so focused on one another that they have tunnel vision and are so dialed in, they are unaware of their surroundings.
I observed no individuals attempting to collaborate with the other divisions to accomplish the ‘big picture’ requirement. A complete, attractive, and practical package to service the national hat dealer was not achieved. The standalone designs were unique and beautiful by design but did not function eloquently as one cohesive unit. It was disjointed. Provided that all the divisions worked for the same company!
In closing, I believe anyone can take on that role of leading the collaboration – it is not exclusive to leadership positions in the organization (C-Suite, VPs, managers, Etc.). The ability to conduct collaboration may result in desirable and marketable skills for a career.
At Caron, our team understands and recognizes that teams may lose sight of the big picture during a transition of change. Our team has the ability and skills to facilitate a smooth transition.Please connect with us, and allow us to help add value to your organization.