Cracking The Collaboration Code

May the Best Team Win!


In an earlier post, T he 11 Habits of Highly Effective Teams, I introduced 11 operating principles that serve as the first part of an operating platform that can be used to help people practice genuine team collaboration on the job. Once understood, they must essentially become habits for people on teams to develop. They are in-play all of the time and are listed in no particular order as follows: (1) Focus On Team – Not Position; (2) Understand That Everyone Can Play; (3) Embrace Diversity; (4) Rely On Each Other; (5) Promote Both Individual & Team Values; (6) Seek Skillful, Adaptable Players; (7) Charge The Team To Perform The Work: (8) Empower Players To Win; (9) Coach Teams To Respond To Changing Conditions On Their Own; (10) Develop Partners On The Field; and, (11) Achieve Cross-Cultural Agility.

The second part of the operating platform used by highly effective teams consists of a series of competencies focused on collaboration, aligned with each of the operating principles – or habits. For example, competencies aligned to the operating principle, Rely On Each Other are relationship building, team management, and team player.

The operating principles serve as the foundational part of developing an alternative mindset – while the competencies focused on collaboration serve to develop the skill-set for practicing genuine team collaboration. Again, combined they provide the operating platform (i.e., Collaboration Code) needed to develop a mindset that helps shape decisions regarding competencies focused on collaboration – and ultimately behaviors – leading to improved team effectiveness.

The idea of developing an alternative mindset is something that must be learned. Why? Most people function with a mindset that supports group work which is more about cooperating or coordinating with others. Because it’s not in our DNA, the idea that people can switch mindsets on-demand to collaborate is not realistic.

The process for cracking the collaboration code starts with training. there are several training courses that help to develop an alternative mindset for applying a skill-set focused on collaboration’s competencies.

Once trained, the process often calls for committing people (and teams) to coaching using this operating platform. The process is highly personalized with action plans created to match up with targeted competencies once individual strengths have been assessed. 

Note a key challenge for the team coach is convincing people on the team that high performance is needed for the task – and it can only be achieved when the team functions in a way that recognizes the interdependent nature of the relationship on the team. Anything short of that recognition (i.e., mindset) will not result in high performance.

We know in today’s global business world that more and more work is being done by teams – and that trend in only going to continue. However, what we don’t know is how effective teams are when it comes to practicing genuine team collaboration in the workplace. I suspect not very effective.

In the end, it’s all about developing mindset before skill-set to have a chance at cracking the collaboration code. The phrase, may the best team win, will take on new meaning in global business for those who are serious about leveraging people resources to achieve a competitive advantage. For example, if the game is to innovate for business growth, the stakes are always high. To win, you must effectively collaborate to innovate! Success is achieved by applying a mindset that recognizes the interdependent nature of the team’s relationship.


Inno balls small

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