The mention of a group activity was enough to solicit groans and moans when in school. The high-performers knew they couldn't rely on the rest of the group to deliver work to their level, so they took it upon themselves to do all the hard parts. The low-performers either coasted through the activity or experienced frustration because they weren't allowed to help. At this point in our lives, we might have determined that group work is terrible.
I hated group work in school. I hated the thought that someone else could impact MY grade. Well, in the real world, that's exactly how it works. Maybe not directly, but it's definitely true. If our marketing team doesn't build great marketing plans, our sales team doesn't get leads, which means they don't close business, which means I don't have a job. I may not work with the marketing team, but they impact my grade!
Looking at both of those examples above, I'd put a stake in the ground and say neither of them are effective ways of working. In fact, I'd say they suck. It sucks to do all the work on behalf of a team. It sucks to have some other team do work and chuck it over the fence to me. Neither case describe collaboration, which is a shame. It's a shame because masterful collaboration is a key differentiator for top performing teams.
I use the phrase, "Masterful Collaboration is a Power-Up" for a couple of reasons:
- I have a Masters degree in video game design from the University of Central Florida, so I'm nerdy like that.
- It's an unfair advantage when done well.
- It's also built-in to the system...meaning it's put there on purpose and you can choose to use it or not.
It's that last point that really stands out to me. Organizations CHOOSE to collaborate in masterful ways. If that's true, then it must also be true that organizations to NOT collaborate in masterful ways. The patterns are there. They're well-defined. The industry leaders in every category have figured out how to get their talent to work together in ways that give them an unfair advantage.
Your organization is getting the results it's designed to achieve. If you're struggling to collaborate, the easy thing is to assume it's a people issue. If you take a step back, though, I think you'll notice that your system has more to do with the struggle...after all, the people are playing parts in the system, but the system dictates how it all works.
We have hundreds of interactions each week with our teammates. If 10% of those showcased masterful collaboration, what would the impact be? What about 50%? What if every interaction in your organization was a masterclass in collaboration...what would you be able to achieve?