I recent enjoyed a podcast by Pilar Orti and Lisette Sutherland where they discussed “Words We’d Like to See Disappear or Used Differently” – and one of them was “Collaboration.”
I don’t think I’m ready to give it up just yet, particularly when exploring change in the context of teams and organizations.
Let’s start with a dictionary definition:
col·lab·o·ra·tion /kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/ noun
- the action of working with someone to produce or create something. “he wrote on art and architecture in collaboration with John Betjeman”
- traitorous cooperation with an enemy. “he faces charges of collaboration”
So, short of the #2 usage, I’m all in. And a few antonyms, to be clear on what it is not:
Embracing the Resistance
A critical factor to the ultimate success or failure of any change initiative is a clear understanding of “who is affected.” This step is easily overlooked, especially when you are so sure you “know what needs to be done.”
The solution is quite simple (but perhaps not so easy): Involve those affected by the change in the design of the change. People are better at coping with change if they have (or at least the option to have) a hand in creating it.
People resist change because of many reasons, but one powerful way to overcome resistance is shared ownership.
- Utilize consensus building where possible. (Here’s one pattern: Note and Vote)
- Make sure there’s agreement on “what the problem to be solved“ is. It’s aslo hard for people to buy into “a solution” if they don’t understand that they are facing a problem to begin with.
- Do you have all the right people involved? Make sure you have all the technical skills and competencies required to design the solution. As part of the initiative, do you need to try an inverse conway maneuver? )
- Ensure a high level of trust – I should probably move this to the top of the list. Without ample trust you won’t get very far. More on the topic of trust here.
- Don’t try to go “too big.” Start with a few committed individuals, and small changes. Early wins will help bring others on board.
- Celebrate together. Kudos for quick learning (success or failure)
Clarify/Align WIIFM’s (What’s In It for ME?)
When collaborating (Sorry, there’s that word again…), it helps to be extremely clear on not only what’s in it for you, but also what’s in it for “them” (individuals, the team, the organization) – those affected by the change.
If you’re not crystal clear on drivers, here are some experiments that might assist:
- Intrinsic/Moving Motivators
- Team Values
- Team Agreements
- Personal Maps
Saddling Up and Getting Out of the StableEmbracing the resistance to collaboration - co-create. Click To Tweet
So enough on theory… how do you get the horses out of the barn onto the trail? Well, it depends.
Change can happen within the borders of a team, as well as at the scale of an organization. In both cases, it helps to not only to have a change canvas to map out your route, but a clear process for how decisions will be made along the way.
More on both of those topics over the next few weeks.