Empowering Change through Collaboration – Or not?

By | February 28, 2013

Change happens whether we take action or not, as evidenced by our country’s political gridlock. Even when people choose to stay on their own sides for whatever the reason, and do not even attempt to collaborate, change is still going to happen.  The consequence of not working together to find a compromise is usually that the outcome really does not benefit anyone. 

 In an article titled Collaborating for Change – Monkey Say, Monkey Do,  Graham Brown-Martin, the founder of Learning Without Frontiers shares the opinion that society operates within a series of mechanisms or under superstructures that maintain the status quo. His focus is on Education Systems but I believe the same applies or even originates in the broader industrial base.  In fact Brown-Martin says, “Our assessment system is broken. We routinely deploy fact-based curricula and examinations that positively discriminate against collaboration. How do we assess collaboration? The fact is that we don’t, because collaboration isn’t valued in our industrial education systems.”  The suggestion is that to effect change and collaboration, the assessment system where people work together to solve a challenge using the digital tools of this century that will form part of their future lives.”   

In another article, Don Trapscott, Curator, Social Media Week, says “Let’s face it. The world is broken and the industrial economy and many of its industries and organizations have finally run out of gas, from newspapers and old models of financial services to our energy grid, transportation systems and institutions for global cooperation and problem solving.” This seems very disturbing yet undeniable; we face changing how banks, healthcare institutions and media itself interacts and communicates with its customers and employees.  Trapscott goes on to say, “Fortunately, for the first time in history, people everywhere can participate fully in creating a sustainable future. We are now building the collective intelligence to rethink many industries and sectors of society around the principles of collaboration.”

In our work improving business performance, we have found over and over that it takes a process to manage the change process, be it implementing new technologies and capabilities, or changing the markets served.  A tool set is needed to break down silos and get beyond self-interest.  Utilizing a process accounting for and embracing functional needs is required – structured collaboration!  Establish common goals, work together on the task definition and responsibilities, hold each other accountable, and measure the team’s results.  Stop the blame game!

Document creation and delivery is an environment where we were slow to change and yet change is happening. The outcome is not always good because of resistance to the inevitable.  When are we going to learn we cannot stop change, but we can collaborate to adapt and optimize the outcomes of change?  What are you doing in your business to promote collaborating to solve problems, and competing less with each other internally and externally? 

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