I thought I’d take some time to reflect and share some learnings around looking inward to make progress outward – and how by taking personal accountability for collaboration we can all move our business forward together.

What do we mean by ‘collaboration’ ?

We’ve used the word ‘collaboration’ for years and often in contradictory ways. If you ask a room ‘do you collaborate?’, everyone will raise their hand, but if you drill into the details, the hands will keep going down. Here’s an exercise I’ve done with lots of different audiences in LBG and other companies and a good one to try on your teams to demonstrate the depth of collaboration that’s actually happening.

Question 1: Do you collaborate? – 100% hands up
Question 2: Do you collaborate with your direct teams? – 100% hands up
Question 3: Do you collaborate with your wider teams? – 80% hands up
Question 4: Do you collaborate with your business area? – 50% hands up
Question 5: Do you collaborate with your division? – 20% hands up
Question 6: Do you collaborate across divisions? – 2% hands up

Defining ‘collaboration’

Clearly the definition of collaboration means something different to different people. So what do we mean by collaboration? For me…

Collaboration is more than just working together to produce something.
It means admitting that as individuals we don’t have all the answers.
It’s working in the open, encouraging input to enable the best outcomes.
It’s openly sharing knowledge and insights to turn ideas into reality.
It’s about changing the way we work.

The hard part

The hard part is getting people to look inwardly at what they do and challenge their own processes to see how they can make it easier for people to work with them. Everyone will say ‘we want less bureaucracy’ but rarely look at the bureaucracy they themselves create and how it can be streamlined. I liken it to this statement:

You’re not IN traffic. You ARE traffic.

It’s about having the bravery to say ‘you know what, we’re not easy to work with either’ and to commit to making changes – and when you make those changes, including the end user in that to work together for the best outcome.

Now imagine if everyone focussed on making it easier to work with them – it would really make our business great!