We all know that winning is everything in today’s highly competitive world. Problem is, we don’t know how to collaborate to produce win-win outcomes in a world that promotes individual performance over team performance which result in win-lose outcomes. Look around and you see people (and cultures) with values that promote individual performance over team performance. Just as 'good is the enemy of great,' could it be that 'individual values are the enemy of organization or team values?'
We know that innovation is a product of collaboration – that it doesn’t come from individual people. Yet, people and organizations struggle to understand just how to transition to a collaborative mindset for producing innovative outcomes. Bottom line – its starts with the commitment to train people how to effectively collaborate.
The mindset gap I’m referring to is a product of our past. Because most of us grew up with values that favor individual performance over team performance, we’ve been strapped-in to treat collaboration as 'group work' meaning, 'let’s cooperate or coordinate with each other.' That definition – and application – is far too limiting to expect innovative outcomes. And, since it’s not in our DNA, the idea that people can flip mindsets on-demand to practice genuine collaboration on the job is not realistic.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with an option that doesn’t appear to be exercised very often yet matters most – management innovation. Management guru, Gary Hamel, has made this clear by describing the importance of management innovation to organizations for crossing new performance thresholds in his article, The Why, What, and How of Management Innovation.
For us to diligently move forward and increase the chances of generating innovative outcomes from collaboration, we must attack the problem introduced earlier with new operating principles that help close the mindset gap. People need to learn new operating principles to lead with a collaborative mindset and manage using collaboration’s competencies – or skillset. Until that step is completed, we will not change how people work on teams – and will continue to struggle with the application of 'group work' for generating innovative outcomes. And, we will not be practicing management innovation.
Again, developing a collaborative mindset (and skillset) for practicing genuine collaboration on the job can be learned. We’ve developed The Collaboration Game™ for this purpose. It’s a one-day, highly experiential training simulation that teaches people new operating principles, so they learn how to lead with a collaborative mindset. Combined with a set of competencies focused on collaboration, people are provided with a new methodology or process, i.e., operating platform, to apply for collaborating to innovate, for example.
Note, these operating principles are described as novel principles that illuminate a new approach for practicing genuine collaboration on the job. They come from the game of soccer and mirror the team’s actions on the field. Played at its highest level, soccer is a great example of a sport with teams whose success is directly related to their ability to apply a collaborative mindset, recognizing the interdependent nature of the team’s relationship for harnessing the power of connection points across the team’s network to produce win-win outcomes.
So, there you have it. Therein lies the opportunity to change and become a management innovator, to paraphrase Gary Hamel, your team’s success depends upon it.