Monthly Archives: February 2017

Smash down the walls (and let your leader swing the sledgehammer)

I am greatly encouraged by the reaction to this series of blogs on collaboration in the workplace.

In the first, we showed that the cleverest organisations are finding that a step change in intensity in collaborative working is unleashing enormous gains in engagement and productivity. They smash down unnecessary hierarchical and functional walls within their businesses to realise these gains.

In the second, we talked about how businesses can harness this potential. Most of us try gamely to collaborate with others in their everyday lives, but are rarely incentivised to do so by organisations. The value from a step change in collaborative working lies in an intensified “project mentality” – that is to say learning in specific situations or projects through sharing knowledge across the business.

Most recently, we argued that business has a powerful role in the current climate via collaborative working and technologies to play in making sure that people and countries do not turn in on themselves and against one another. Smart businesses ask themselves which of the physical or psychological walls within their business actually need to be in place. This, at a time when many politicians are seeking to build rather than tear down walls.

The benefits of a collaborative culture in your business can build quickly over time. But initially, it may feel difficult to decide whether the investment in learning to collaborate will pay off. So the collaboration mentality must start at the very top, with the leader swinging the sledgehammer to smash down the walls that damage and divide businesses from within.

It’s not good enough for current CEOs to spot the potential for collaboration and then throw their most talented people together with a vague “get on with it” message. They must set the standard by being good collaborators themselves in deed, as well as in word.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with a CEO already enlightened in swinging the sledgehammer, in order promoting closer collaboration within and across his business. He wanted to eradicate the infamous “silo mentality” – that cause of so much wasted energy and mistrust. We asked him how he would know when a culture of collaboration had truly taken hold. He told us: “When we as leaders are delighted to tell our teams that we don’t have all the answers. They are right to look to us for a sense of direction, but it’s clearly time for us to collaborate too, to embrace knowledge and ideas from our teams.”

In other words CEOs must lead the culture of collaboration, not merely encourage others to do so.

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

Collaboration vs confrontation: 2 worlds collide – with only 1 possible winner

There’s a mighty battle brewing…. between the cultures of business and politics. Between collaboration and confrontation. And between smashing down the walls that damage and divide us, or building them afresh.

The news that technology giants Amazon, Microsoft and Expedia have backed a legal challenge to President Trump’s immigration curbs is likely to be the first of many battles between the cultures of big business and politics over the coming months. Others are on the way over the withdrawal from international trade deals, environmental agreements and, of course, THAT wall.

Business has a powerful role to play in making sure that people and countries do not turn in on themselves and against one another. And it also has a strong commercial incentive to do so. And my strong guess is that the digital, collaborative mindset of business will outsmart and outpace the creaking analogue machinery of government at every turn.

The truth is that in 2017 the cleverest organisations are finding that a step change in intensity in collaborative working is unleashing enormous gains in engagement and productivity. These businesses ask themselves which of the physical or psychological walls within their business – within hierarchies, between departments or functions – actually need to be in place, at a time when the political narrative is about the opposite. Technology and collaboration are the new key drivers for business, so seeing technology leaders collaborate on this issue is highly appropriate.

There is nothing new about the idea of collaboration per se and until recently business and politicians were at one on its benefits. But now things are changing – and very quickly. The impact of technology – and the radical redesign of the workplace that it has driven – has raised the profile of greater “collaboration” to a competitive necessity, all at a time when the political narrative is heading in the other direction.

We are moving into an era of “full-on” workplace collaboration where the business rhetoric of yesterday potentially becomes the business reality of today And in the process it will lead them to: a far more effective blueprint for organisational working and learning; A positive step change in employee engagement levels; and greatly increased levels of productivity.

So the stage is set – Collaboration vs Confrontation. To my mind, the distance travelled by business along the road to the former means that there, in the end, will only be one winner.

Trevor Merriden is the Managing Director of Merriborn Media, experts in building Collaborative Communities through Clever Content and Online Engagement. Email trevor.merriden@merribornmedia.co.uk for an inital free consultation.

To download our joint free whitepaper with 10Eighty – “Surfing the Collaboration Wave – How Collaboration can boost your L&D, Engagement and Productivity” Click here!

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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.