As I mentioned in my last post, Open as the Default, one of the necessary conditions for successful enterprise collaboration is the requisite culture. The behavioral norms for successful collaboration tend to be different from the behaviors found in most organizations. In this post I identify some of the behaviors that should be present for an enterprise to be truly collaborative. I will address how to achieve these behaviors across an organization in later posts.
Understanding what behaviors support collaboration is important for a couple of reasons. First, possessing a picture of the future state of an organization's culture provides a road map for the HR and OD (Organization Development) functions to follow. Secondly these behaviors can be directly mapped to actions and activities carried out by individuals within the organization. Being able to identify specific activities that support collaboration, allows us to more effectively design the tools that support collaboration.By aligning tools and activity we can deliver better collaborative solutions.
Here are seven collaborative behaviors.
Open as the default - This is addressed in detail in my previous post, but in summary, unless information can specifically be identified as needing to be secure for liability, IC or regulatory reasons, it should be made freely available within the enterprise ecosystem. This enables the ability for everyone to learn from previous efforts.
Suspend belief in absolutes - One of the biggest barriers to collaboration is the group or individual that is absolutely convinced that their position on an issue is correct. Without allowing for opposing opinions and open debate, collaboration cannot occur.
Challenge status quo, AGAIN - Most people will raise the proverbial "devil's advocate" question once, but as soon as someone is able to make any kind of reasonable defense of the status quo, opposition melts away. It is paramount to be certain that prevailing wisdom is truly challenged. 5-year olds do this extremely well: "Why...Why...Why...". Challenging convention for a second and third time will ultimately break down barriers and lead to better outcomes.
Play nice - Again from the kindergarten skill set. Being authentically open, honest and friendly builds trust, a necessary component of collaboration.
Share more broadly than required - This is similar to "Open as the default". The difference is that "OATD" refers to allowing information to be shared. Sharing more broadly than required is about who do you proactively inform that the information exists. Traditionally only the project team is informed about project activities. Why not extend that notification to all stakeholders?
Be chivalrous - Being gracious and honorable toward the "opposition" can go a long way toward finding common ground.
Use reason and logic to make your point, not power and authority - For a conversation to be collaborative it must be among equals. Find some way to get hierarchy out of the picture.
Do you agree? Can you think of other behaviors that should be on this list?
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