Tag Archives: collaboration

Collaboration DNA: Are We Listening? (Ch.8)

Collaboration starts with the ability to listen. That’s also where it often stops.

Amid a deluge of information and a proliferation of ways to get it, it’s no wonder that we tune out to so much of what is happening around us. But it spells trouble when we try to solve problems together.

I’ve addressed active listening as a core, foundational element in The DNA of Collaboration because so often it’s where we run off the rails. For years we’re programmed to speak up, take a stand, and broadcast our ideas. So what do we do in meetings? We wait for our turn to broadcast. If there’s spare time in between soliloquies? We use it to polish up the next one.

Collaboration doesn’t work that way. True communication requires give and take, focus, and our full awareness of others around the table (virtual or otherwise). It’s amazing how many f2f meetings and virtual chats I attend regularly where people don’t listen in the slightest. They might as well be wearing headphones. Some of them actually are. And there’s that whole fiddling with email on the smartphone routine.

For true engagement that leads to valuable collaborative outcomes, we need to change our approach.

Let’s look  at some key CDNA discussion points our next Virtual Book Tour conversation, SAT 9/8 11aET:

  • Q1. Bias for Respect. Do you value the input of others? How do you show it?
  • Q2. Bias for Trust, aka ‘benefit of the doubt’ means leaning into new interactions. Do you do this? Have you been burned, and if so, did you bounce back?
  • Q3. Active Listening. What steps can you take to be present, in the moment?
  • Q4. Empathy. Is this a natural trait, or a skill that can be learned? 
  • Q5. Positive Outlook. Do we come poised to win the debate, or to learn? What are the signs? How can we influence mindset?
  • Q6. Goal Orientation. We’ve said our intent is key. Why does it impact our ability to listen in the moment?

To me, collaborators must be willing to listen. It seems so intuitive. But how often do we try to do it? How often are we successful? Join us, as we discuss this important thread. To join the conversation, click here.

– Chris Jones, author, @sourcepov


Common Ground: The Power of Metaphor and Story (Ch.6/7)

When we talk about team play or collaboration, we often talk about the importance of establishing common ground. Trouble is, we spend very few cycles on how to get there.

Here are two approaches that interact in powerful ways:

  • From the literary side of the world there’s a valuable and relevant tool called Metaphor that links abstract notions to concrete things we can observe ..
  • Since the dawn of civilization, we’ve used Story to pass down values and create emotional connections across societies and generations ..

So what does all that mean for us as collaborators?

What if we were to weave metaphor and story together to form a new, more resilient way to get people working together, stitching a durable fabric of ideas and communication principles that everyone can relate to?  Well, actually, we just did. Reread that last sentence. The weaver and fabric metaphors are themselves powerful because they elicit the sense of creating something strong, new and valuable. Putting ourselves .. as collaborators .. into that metaphor is the stuff that draws interest and connection, and the short narratives wrapping around it all quickly evolve into emotional, high impact stories.

When our communication is rich and insightful and touches on our emotions, I’m finding that fundamentally deeper connections can be forged.

All of the sudden, collaboration is not only possible, it’s contagious.

Let’s unpack a few aspects of how these fascinating communication tools can help us.

Q1. Semantic Grounding. From Aristotle to Lakoff much has been said re: the power of metaphor to make the abstract more clear; what are your favorite examples?

Q2. K12 Education. How does the factory metaphor for learning (re: defects) stack up against a more organic metaphor, like the rhizome (re: rooted resilience)?

Q3. Emergence. In “Where Good Ideas Come From” @StevenBJohnson shares Reef, City & Web as 3 metaphors for emergence. Other examples? Something based on weaver or grower idea:  maybe Fabric? or Seedling?

Q4. E20 Storytelling. How can simple narratives tell a story? If we put our enterprise co-workers and stakeholders in the plot and discuss consequences, can we touch emotions?

I hope you’ll join us SAT 8/18 at 11aET as we discuss what I always find a fascinating topic.  If you want to dig further, you’ll find discussion of both threads in The DNA of Collaboration, now on Kindle, with softcover launch planned for Labor Day.

In the book, I discuss over 20 metaphors (including all of these) which can, when used in stories and even simple narratives, provide rich and powerful ways to establish common ground. In truth, language and communication are vast topics, and we are only scratching the surface ..

But as they say, you have to start somewhere.  See you online?

– Chris Jones, author, @sourcepov


Collaboration DNA: A Choice of Words (Ch.5)

When we collaborate, words are not only the currency of the ideas we share, they also form boundaries of what we’re able to learn and know.  

Words literally define our possibilities.

Regardless of our education or level of expertise, most of us are guilty of being careless with our semantics.  We speak without thinking, letting our scattered, ill-defined notions fall where they may. Ludwig Wittgenstein once called it the most fundamental problem in the great, century-old debates of philosophy and science.

As outlined in Chapter 5 of The DNA of Collaboration, failure to take care in choosing and defining our words can spell disaster for collaborative efforts.  Let’s unpack the topic by reflecting on five of the main ideas covered in this chapter.  Relevant authors noted.

  • Q1. To what extent are learning & knowledge constrained by the vocabulary and semantic choices of collaborators? #bohm #senge
  • Q2. What happens when we fail to choose our words carefully? #wittgenstein
  • Q3. Does rich & colorful language help us or hurt us when collaborating? When is semantic precision a better choice? #lakoff
  • Q4. “When we define common terms we create common ground” Have you used solution language in practice to build buy-in?
  • Q5. Like an iceberg, many of the implications of our words hide beneath the surface of what’s actually said. Is this to our advantage?

This will be the 2nd edition of our Virtual Book Tour.  I hope you can join us Saturday, 8/11, at 11 a.m. EDT.  If it’s anything like last week’s chat there will be a great exchange.  You’ll find our agenda for future sessions and transcripts from prior sessions at http://bit.ly/cdnaVBT

Thanks for your interest in the book, the topic, and the conversation.  I hope to see you there!

– Chris Jones aka @sourcepov, author The DNA of Collaboration


Collaboration DNA: Unpacking Intention (Ch.4)

When it comes to teams, do you wonder about motivations of others?  What about your own?

As the author of The DNA of Collaboration I’m excited to kick off our virtual Book Tour (via Twitter chat) this SAT 8/4 at 11aET.  It should be an interesting and insightful conversation on “Intention” .. an important topic that I explore in Chapter 4.

Here’s how we’ll frame the conversation:

Q1. In team settings, can we detect (a.) going thru motions vs. (b.) acting from deep conviction? Can asking ‘why’ surface #intention?

Q2. Wheatley and Maslow tell us survival is a primal motivator. In business, how does this impact our willingness to take risks?

Q3. Dweck says learning & risk-taking are easy when we have a growth mindset vs. obsessing on our perceived fixed limitations. Agree?

Q4. The 21st century seems to demand focus on quick wins over longer-term goals. Can both be achieved? What’s the priority?

After brief introductions at 11aET, we’ll jump into the fray to tackle these questions.

Want to get a feel for intentional collaboration in #cdna context?  Use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon .. I introduce the concept in the Prologue, which you can read in it’s entirety online.

More on the series? Our broader agenda is taking shape.

Thanks in advance for your interest; I hope to see you at this discussion, or at one like in in the weeks ahead. Mark your calendars:  SATURDAYS 11am ET.

– Chris Jones, author, The DNA of Collaboration


It’s Time for New Choices (from the back cover)

More and more we’re called upon to collaborate – but the factors that determine our success can be elusive. Collaboration requires focus, intention, time and engagement, key elements that are far too scarce in the 21st Century.

Collaboration is a choice. And it’s a choice many will avoid.

With application across commercial, social and public domains, this book introduces Collaboration DNA as the basic building blocks of team-based problem solving, the tools needed to attack our ever more difficult challenges:

  • Frameworks – simple, accessible ways to describe our abstract ideas
  • Messaging – improving our communication through language, metaphor  & story
  • Relationships – exploring listening, culture change, interpersonal dynamics and new, more flexible modes of governance
  • Flow – expanding scenarios for space, roles and process, with a look at virtual tools and how social technologies are changing the game
  • Possibilities – looking at the evolution of  knowledge management, a return to critical thinking and a new appreciation for complexity

The world isn’t waiting for us. The pressure is on. We must find ways to unlock the potential of our organizations, many of them gridlocked by the structural hierarchies left over from the century-old Industrial Revolution. Collaboration is not easy. But it promises deep rewards for those who invest time in getting it right.

The DNA of Collaboration is a practical guide for teams who intend to do better. And it’s not just a book, it’s conversation. Keep an eye on hashtag #cdna as we begin to unpack the core topics online.

Here’s a look at that back cover, including some testimonials:

cdna-COVER-v5g-SEP_back

The DNA of Collaboration (back cover)

Want to hear the latest?  Follow us on Twitter: @collabdna (book) and @sourcepov (author).