Ubud, 31 October 2018 — Whether you are innovating for market leadership or struggling for business survival, in today’s world you need collaboration skills to succeed.
New forms of collaboration
Look around and you see a stream of new forms of collaboration popping up, often created by Millennials. From co-working spaces to purpose-driven online communities, innovation labs, and businesses driven by self-organizing teams, the list seems to go on and on.
A fundamental question is why these changes are taking place and what is the purpose of these new forms of collaboration?
Moreover, what do you know about the value changes that are driving these new forms of organization? We started exploring some of the changes in my post on the Waterfall or Wetland organizational change model.
This week I met in Bali with my collaborating partner Floor de Ruiter of Flying Elephants, known for ‘Changing the Game of Change.’ We caught up with what we both learned over the past year, and then took deep dives in organizational change topics that fascinate us both.
One of these was to recognize that the more significant changes can only happen in organizations when there is a larger ‘source of heat’ to pull the stakeholders out of the old model and into a collaborative process for change. What heat sources (powerful incentives for change) can you see in your organization or in others that you are familiar with?
We also reflected on a set of experiences that can help people in becoming change makers who are willing to collaborate and own the process of change.
Here are three tips you can consider personally, to become a better collaborator in leading changes.
First, open your heart.
Suspend your judgments and allow yourself to work with emotions (your own and those of other people) when you start advocating and dialoguing for changes in the rules and procedures of the organization.
As Harvard professors Kotter and Cohen discovered, the heart of change lies—somewhat counterintuitively—in unlocking its emotional dimensions, more so than in the brainy rational dimensions.
Be wary, therefore, of getting stuck in analyses that continue objectifying the issues ‘outside’ the feelings of the stakeholders, including you. And make sure you recognize the diverse range of stakeholders whose emotions you need to check in with.
Sharing stories and organizing facilitated open discussions are powerful ways to create better dialogues, where the feelings of the stakeholders can be brought out into the open.
To help facilitate such open dialogues that tap the emotions of the participants, you can use the heart icon as you work to engage your audience in interaction. You can see this in the Care to Collab model below.
Second, discover new insights.
As you give more space to your curiosity, start looking actively for new data and information that will help you take fresh perspectives as you diagnose the challenges facing the organization.
What leaders do continuously is to listen and frame & reframe what you see as you develop people-centered processes for change in the organization. Here is where your prior experience can both help and hinder.
Beware, therefore, of prejudices and judgments that show up as filters that give you a limited or wrong understanding of what’s going on in the organization.
And, when you make progress, acknowledge the new insights you have discovered by giving yourself a thumb up!
Third, play with what you learn.
In organizational change, you want to involve stakeholders in navigating processes that involve both letting go and letting come. Meaningful changes usually exceed what can be achieved through incremental ‘business as usual’ improvements to the current processes. Think bigger and deeper.
Once the stakeholders have discovered what changes are needed in their teams and the organization, getting down to prototyping will help to generate positive energy and to discover what else needs to be learned in the process.
I like to visualize this prototyping phase as a process of play, symbolized by the kitten icon in the Care to Collab model. When you and the stakeholders have already explored emotions (heart) and discovery (thumb up), it’s high time for getting into play.
We already saw that many of the new forms of collaboration are created by Millennials. It’s critical to play with prototypes of change in a way that involves cross-generational collaboration. Such collaboration is an indispensable source of energy, intelligence, and momentum for the changes you want to see.
Summing up Open, Discover, and Play, you can remind yourself to lead with your heart, head, and feet. You will already have some clarity about the first two. What about your feet?
Leading with your feet is about recognizing what you and other people stand for, and what moves you are willing to make. It’s about uncovering intentions and making choices. It points to answering the Why question I asked above. Exercises that require people to line up or position themselves in another form of constellation in the room can help to explore where things stand in the ‘lead with your feet’ dimension.
In our catch-up discussion, Floor and I also discussed how stakeholders in organizational change projects usually have good reasons for their choices and behaviors. It’s important to learn what they are, and to see the situations and the people without filters that limit your view and understanding of what’s really going on.
This reminded me of my practice in taking integral approaches in work and life, with a belief that everyone is right and holds a part of the Truth. The opportunity then becomes how to piece together those individual puzzle parts into a picture.
As you explore your Care to Collab, don’t forget that collaborating across generations is becoming more and more essential in our world today!
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