Tag Archives: roles

The Courage to Collaborate [FRI 4/26 CBODN 2013 Conference, Arlington VA]

The Courage to Collaborate

Join the conversation: Friday April 26th 1p at GMU Founder’s Hall, Arlington VA

Organizations in the 21st century have grown increasingly risk averse, causing many people inside them to take a defensive view of the world.

Small wonder that collaboration – the open exchange of ideas in an effort to solve problems – has a grown increasingly difficult.  More and more we hear about collaboration and it’s benefits, via sage advice from outsiders and edicts from above.  But there’s a simple question facing us.  It often goes unasked and stays unanswered.

Do we have the courage to collaborate?

On Friday April 26th, at the Chesapeake Bay OD Network (CBODN) 2013 Annual Conference, from 1-2:15 pm, James Alexandar and I are taking on this topic.  The conference theme is “Courageous Leadership” and it explores how OD practitioners must challenge what we think we know about achieving success in the 21st century organization.

I’m Chris Jones, @sourcepov from Twitter, and I’ll be heading up from Charlotte to join in the conversation.

James and I will explore a variety of the key elements in the equation, but ultimately we’ll focus in on Culture, lack of Trust and Fear.  These elements invariably shape and constrain behaviors in today’s organizations, in spite of efforts in the opposite direction.  Most of the time, the odds seem stacked against us.  The ability to take on the challenges requires an immense amount of courage.  Success requires leaders who are willing and able to release their death grip on control.  The discussion on Friday will explore some core precepts of OD, then tackle the implications of key barriers.  Then we’ll share some very specific insights on how collaboration accelerates in a high-trust, low-fear workplace, giving participants hands on experience with collaboration in an open exchange.  We’ll navigate from a “risk averse” mindset to a “risk-enabled” one, tapping ideas from my book The DNA of Collaboration: Unlocking the Potential of 21st Century Teams.

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Who’s Role is it Anyway? Dynamics of Effective Collaboration (Ch.14)

Promo image from "Whose Line is it Anyway?" courtesy ABC

Promo image from “Whose Line is it Anyway?” courtesy ABC

When we come together as a team, whether instinctively or out of habit, we tend to gravitate to natural roles that we find comfortable, whether as contributors or listeners, active participants or passive observers, leaders or supporting cast.  Depending on the group, there can be lots in play at once, but we tend to overlook the dynamics.

Consider an improv comedy troupe performing live, or a band working out tracks in a recording studio.  What’s really happening?  Can we tease out more explicit roles that influence our collaborative results?  I think we can.  Too often we don’t put thought into the kinds of participation we really need.  We discussed this last fall in our KM World W5 work session and explored the dynamics still further here in Charlotte at our QCF “New Thinking” workshop (slides).

Let’s keep the exploration going.

The #CDNA Crew has launched a new series MONDAYs at 8pET on Key Roles in Collaboration.  It’s the focus of Chapter 14 in The DNA of Collaboration (in softcover or Kindle on Amazon) and it’s almost always a conversation that strikes a chord.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll attack these roles, one by one, to see what we might learn:

  • Q1. Catalyst. In what ways can we spark new thinking in our discussions?
  • Q2. Connector. What happens when we connect ideas during a collaborative session or chat? And to make this happen more, what are:  (a.) key initial conditions? (b.) supporting behaviors? (c.) times they add most value? (d.) situations when their role is most important?
  • Q3. Aggregator/Curator. Often this means lots of work. How can we make the capture/takeaways of ideas more interesting?
  • Q4. Moderator/Planner. What skills make these leadership role effective?
  • Q5. Analyst. How do we make time for facts, data, and critical thinking?
  • Q6. Challenger. Can we take issue in constructive ways, without coming across as a naysayer?
  • Q7. Designer. What is the potential for truly creative thinking? Does a meeting afford enough “white space” for this?
  • Q8. Historian/Researcher. How can these important activities happen in real time?
  • Q9. Referee. Is there a place for (simple) rules, and how do we ensure healthy boundaries?
  • Q10. Practitioner. What’s the best way to engage the hands-on folks that practice what’s being discussed?
  • Q11. Expert/SME. These folks often kill collaboration with the weight of their knowledge; how can this be avoided?
  • Q12. Did we leave out any roles? If so, which ones, and why?

I’ll be posting takeaways as comments to this post, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d do the same.  The value is in our diverse perspectives ..

Again, hope to see you guys for the conversation MONDAYs 8pET using hash tag #cdna .. many folks use Tweetchat (link).  See you there.  What role will you play?

Chris aka @sourcepov


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