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Calling all Extroverts! Why You’re Wired to Collaborate

September 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm PST

I once had the amazing opportunity to interview Jack Welch at a Cisco event.  For 60 minutes we sat side-by-side on stage, within a few inches of each other, but there was no doubt he was the only person in the room in the eyes of the audience.   While his wisdom had the audience captivated, it was his extroverted personality that made the discussion truly fun and engaging.  As an extrovert, Welch fed off the audience’s rousing responses to his thoughts – and his occasional finger-wagging at the leaders in the audience about the future of competition.  The audience loved it.

Sometimes people mistake the behavior of extroverts as “showing off” or trying to command too much attention.  What Jack Welch taught me about extroverts is that their energy rises when they’re connecting with people; extroverts get excited when other people are excited to be with them.  As collaborators, extroverts can play a crucial role in group dynamics.  Action-oriented by nature, extroverts can compel a group forward – especially at key points of agreement or action.

My colleague Carl Wiese and I decided to devote an entire chapter of our book, The Collaboration Imperative (www.thecollaborationimperative.com), to the importance of personal communication styles and how to accelerate authentic conversations by collaborating in your natural style.  We even created a tool to help you improve your inter-personal communication profile: Read More »

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Build Team Trust … Fast.

May 28, 2013 at 10:15 am PST

How to encourage people to do what they say they’re going to do.

Trust is weaved into almost every aspect of our lives. I trusted that my car would get me to the airport this morning, that the pilots and crew would get me to Washington D.C., and that my cab driver would find my hotel. This all comes so naturally. So why does the role of trust in collaboration inside organizations remain such a mystery?

For more than 150 years, organizations have been organized in silos that breed internal competition for resources. The psychology of competing with your teammates for resources, in turn, encouraged an insidious way of working:  passive-aggressive behaviors where humans work side-by-side but work subtly against each other even though they are employed by the same firm.

Trust anchors every successful collaborative team.

We researched at Cisco the most important factors in creating trust on collaboration teams, and the single most important factor is revealing:  do people do what they say they are going to do?

As leaders, it is up to us to be overtly aggressive at vanquishing passive-aggressive behaviors and building real, human trust.  We have no choice in our hyper-connected world where change is constant and work is increasingly global, mobile and virtual. As distance and time condense, it stresses out the calmest of us as we scramble to meet deadlines while working with people that likely we’ve never met.

So what’s the key to building team trust?

“Replace uncertainty with clarity. Articulate the team’s purpose and establish up front what you expect from each member.”  The Collaboration Imperative

How to build a team charter

A team charter helps clarify a team’s purpose, role, shared goals and scope; a charter eliminates ambiguity of expectations. As leaders, we can make a team charter the focal point around which the team builds healthy collaboration habits.

It’s possible to move beyond your gut feel and hope trust develops on your team; it is possible to operationalize it. Trust is too important to, well, just trust that it’ll happen. To that end, we’ve found that a team charter is most effective when it is composed of five elements:

  1. Team purpose:  describes specific challenges, opportunities or tasks the team will address (and also expectations).
  2. Team role:  teams form for different reasons.  Know why your team exists – is it to align a group around an initiative?  Is it to execute a priority together?  What are the different roles of individuals on the team?  Read more about various team roles in Chapter 5 of “The Collaboration Imperative”.
  3. Shared goals:  most collaborative teams have people from different backgrounds, functions and even companies. Make sure despite your differences, you’re all chasing the same goals. These goals allow you to create a specific definition of what success looks like and allow you to map your goals to performance management
  4. Scope:  establish well-defined boundaries of what you hope to do. These “guardrails” allow you to say no to ‘scope creep’! This helps members determine their time commitment and helps the team as a whole stay on track.
  5. Establish ground rules. Put ground rules in place for team procedures and processes (including meeting logistics), how you use your time together, who makes final decisions, how to resolve conflict, and how respect and courtesy are paramount.

A team charter is a powerful means to enable trust-building on your collaboration teams.  Keep in mind that a team charter should be paired with a common vocabulary. Sweat the details of your team’s vocabulary. Ask if everyone on the team has the same definitions in their heads for the vocabulary you are using to articulate the charter.  Don’t let the definition of a word be the reason trust is derailed!

The management science is pretty clear here:  teams that trust each other outperform teams that don’t. Are you outperforming?

Ron

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Inside the Collaboration Crystal Ball: Four New Year’s Resolutions to Speed Up Your Organization

January 24, 2013 at 6:21 am PST

Organizations of all types enter 2013 with one key priority:  how do they move faster and execute with greater agility while still remaining flexible and adaptable to the rapid changes in markets?

CEOs around the world are looking to collaboration as their top strategy to increase the speed of their organizations. Why?  Because collaboration eliminates the friction that slows organizations down — whether that friction comes from people or processes.

The amount of friction in your organization is directly proportional to your ability to speed up your team.  Friction is sometimes purposeful, such as passive-aggressive behavior.  Other times friction comes from processes that create decisions without any clarity or a clear definition of success.

Here are four New Year’s resolutions for all leaders to Read More »

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The True ROI of Collaboration

August 27, 2012 at 7:16 am PST

As INSEAD and UC Berkeley Professor Morten Hansen says, “The goal of collaboration is not collaboration itself, but great results.”[1]  Working with many of our customers, we’ve developed a framework for assessing the true ROI of collaboration, and it falls into three distinct categories:

  • Operational ROI allows you to assess how collaboration eliminates or avoid costs associated with running your business. You might cut travel, reduce infrastructure needs, lower bandwidth or energy costs, save on office space and so on. Collaboration tools can replace or reduce the need for many of these types of costs.
  • Productivity ROI refers to savings generated from more efficient processes, accelerated decision-making and reduced cycle times. Collaboration can lead to significant productivity gains in any number of ways, such as optimizing within lines of business or matching your organization’s expertise to opportunities early on.
  • Strategic ROI can be the hardest to measure, but perhaps the most transformative. This kind of ROI occurs when collaboration enables your business to take a giant leap forward in areas like enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, accelerating innovation, introducing new business models or entering new markets. These types of changes can also reshape an industry in fundamental ways.

These three types of ROI sometime manifest themselves differently across Read More »

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Why Consensus is the Enemy of Collaboration

July 24, 2012 at 9:53 am PST

Increasing how well organizations collaborate is the business opportunity of the decade. But there is one toxic mindset that can inhibit collaboration’s potential: many individuals confuse collaboration with consensus.  Consensus is what makes everyone happy; collaboration is about achieving the best outcome.

As business leaders, it’s vital to recognize that consensus is the enemy of collaboration. Sometimes when we say collaboration, people believe it’s an opportunity to hold hands and sing “kumbaya” around the office campfire. I was deeply inspired by Morten Hansen’s book, Collaboration, in which Hansen stated so brilliantly: Read More »

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