Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Collaboration-It’s a Good Thing

July 8, 2016

They were sitting on the couch intent on their iPads. Chatting away about the project. My grandkids, that is, ages 9 and 7. They were building something in Minecraft, together, connected through iCloud. But also connected by voice.

Collaboration, it’s a good thing. Sometimes technology enables us to collaborate to build better things.

In my other profession, the one that pays the bills, I research companies and industries involved in a building and using a variety of technologies. But it always gets down to people. And how people interact.

Many companies foster silos. People exist only within their department or division or within their product group. They seldom share information or ideas. Many may not even know people in another division.

I’ve seen other companies where there is an attempt to bring people from a variety of functions together, but collaboration is hampered by what we call politics. The trust level in the company is not high. A person may be reluctant to say something out of fear that the comment may be taken out of context, spread to higher management ranks, and they may suffer career repercussions.

Once upon a time I led a department that designed machines to solve specific customer problems. We needed lots of ideas. White boards were a new thing. I bought a bunch. Put them in every cubical, office, and conference room. I told the engineers, sketch the problem on your white board. As you wander through the room to get coffee or whatever, look at the whiteboards. Talk to the other engineer. Maybe new ideas spring up.

We designed some pretty cool machines.

What are you building? Technology? Relationships? An organization?

Sensitize yourself to the atmosphere of the office or organization if you’re geographically spread. Are people sharing ideas? Are people receptive to ideas from others? What can be done to encourage collaboration?

One of my favorite quotes from the cartoon character Bugs Bunny was when somebody wanted to tell him something. “I’m all ears.”

Ah, the beginning of collaboration.

What Behavior Does Your Leadership Encourage

July 1, 2016

James and John went to Jesus privately at the urging of their mother. They wanted to ask for the two top positions in the kingdom Jesus was going to start. Jesus wasn’t impressed. He stopped that sort of political backstabbing at the beginning.

My wife taught third grade for many years. Believe it or not, she did not like it when kids would come running up to her, “Mrs. Mintchell, did you know what [fill in kid’s name] did?”

Why did the kids do that? Same reason as the big guys. They were trying to make themselves look good often at the expense of others of their colleagues.

Two or three times in my career people have spread “stuff” around on me. One boss came to me once and asked, “Did you know that [x] has been going to the president complaining that you don’t have enough work to do?”

It bothered me, but taking the longer view, I knew both companies were tanking. It just gave me incentive to hit the job market before everyone else.

But what if there had been a new president who came in to turn things around? Part of her plan would be to form teams where people collaborated on projects. Just how much collaboration will we do when we’ve been in a culture of “tattling” and other such back-stabbing activities?

We know today that companies and organizations that thrive are those that build an environment where people are comfortable with each other and are free to collaborate and share.

  • Do we stop people who wish to manipulate us with out-of-bounds requests?
  • Do we weed out those who strive to make others look bad
  • Do we react to such gossip?
  • Do we let things go, afraid to act on it?

If we start to sense a lack of trust and collaboration in the organization, maybe it’s a signal to start evaluating our own leadership.

Unburdened Meetings–Friday Leadership Tips

October 16, 2015

I hate meetings.

OK, sometimes you just have to have them. At least, that is what “they” say.

There are those regular meetings that you have because it’s Tuesday morning or Thursday evening.

Those are often the worst. You meet at the regular time–except for George and Linda who are always late. The agenda is the same. Someone talks. Others surreptitiously check email. Or Facebook. (In the old days, we daydreamed or passed notes.)

It doesn’t matter if you are at a church, a non-governmental organization, or a business. You’ve suffered through them.

Yet, there are times when a meeting is necessary.

Looking into the book of Acts, we see where Paul needed a meeting of the church leaders. He needed a decision. He also needed a blessing. The best way to achieve the goal was to gather all the players at one place at one time. Lay out the proposal and make the  argument. Listen to the discussion. Make a few changes. Then go and do.

So, that famous meeting was good. Decisions were made, and Paul was empowered to go out to the world beyond Judea to spread the gospel. The world was changed.

  1. When you need to bring a number of people together because a decision must be made where they are affected and you need buy in, then call a meeting.
  2. When you need to build community among people who seldom see each other during their work days (maybe you have remote workers), then have an occasional meeting where you can share what you are working on and allow time outside the official meeting for conversation.
  3. When it’s Tuesday and you’re supposed to have a meeting but there is nothing going on, then don’t call the meeting. Let everyone go to work.
  4. When it’s Tuesday and you’re the leader and you have to hold that regular staff meeting, then craft an agenda that focuses on a topic that is important for moving the organization forward. Focus on the agenda, expect participation, end with summary of decisions and actions. End promptly.

I don’t always hold meetings, but when I do, I demand focus.