The main obstacle I teach people to overcome when they take a new step in collaboration is their fear of transparency.
Transparency at work
I was fortunate to be invited to help build Cisco’s Integrated Workforce Experience (IWE) for Worldwide Sales in 2009. Since then, my role has changed a few times. The platform on which IWE is built has evolved as well. Throughout these changes, I’ve always been able to count on the guidance and support from my Cisco colleagues. Most of us do not have the word “collaboration” in our job titles. We don’t collaborate because it’s in our job description, we do it because it helps us achieve better results.
Enterprise collaboration is a wonderful exercise in the pay-it-forward model. This has been my case. The platform experts who introduced me to IWE in 2009 appreciated my time and creativity in conducting training sessions for new users. It has been just as rewarding for me to see many of my students introduce our enterprise collaboration solutions to their teams. Out of the many Cisco on Cisco IWE success stories, I’m proud to have been part of those of Selling to Small Business, Selling Competitively, and the Global Platform for Sales.
The first step, publishing, is the most difficult. Whether you are blogging, sharing a presentation, or uploading a project timeline, you wonder what others will think of your work. Cisco is a very large multinational company, so even if contributions are only shared internally, they are still available to tens of thousands of people. The second step is perhaps even more worrisome, waiting for feedback. Be supportive of others as they take their first steps in collaboration. Use the “Like” button, add a comment, and forward their URL to like-minded readers. The more we collaborate, the richer our collective knowledge pool will be.
Transparency in the community
Also consider places outside of work where you can pay-it-forward by sharing your life experiences. My special cause for the past four years has been children’s eye health.
When I found out that my toddler would need to wear prescription eyeglasses full-time, I immediately turned to parenting blogs. I needed to know that someone else had already gone through my journey. More importantly, I needed practical tips on how to help my son’s eyesight improve. My favorite resource back then was babycenter. What made the advice on those blogs so helpful was the honesty of the parents as they asked questions and shared stories. That is the kind of transparency that truly enriches our collective knowledge on a subject. Today, there are even more resources for parents in similar situations, such as the Little Four Eyes board on Pinterest. My favorite is the Great Glasses Play Day movement. This is a community built by parents from around the world who turned a challenge into a celebration. This is the power of collaboration.
What is your collaboration success story?