Collaboration: An Imperative in Modern Organizations 

Be Respectful Collaboration Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: Collaboration is no longer a nicety to have. It is vital. Why? Content is exploding and moving so quickly that we simply need each other for the best innovative and sustainable results. It has always been more effective and gratifying to learn as a group (although sometimes frustrating). But today, it is an imperative. 

Effective collaboration needs more than great tools (like Google’s G Suite) and can’t be applied as the latest buzzword in management. It needs practice and a learning framework. This insight comes from  “The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them.”

The authors recommend the following ingredients to drive effective collaboration:

1. Joint Attention. 

“To collaborate, people need to pay attention to the same thing. Visual attention provides an index of what people are thinking about. If you are looking longingly at an ice-cold beer, it is a good bet that you are thinking about an ice-cold beer.” PS that’s why people working on the same doc together, seeing common info on a screen, and/or seeing each other by video, helps promote collaboration.

2. Listening. 

“Thoughts can be much more complex than an eye gaze. It also helps to hear what people are thinking. A common situation is that people refuse to listen to one another because they are too busy talking or they just discount other’s ideas.” In our organization we teach everyone the simple listening model: Connect, Understand, then… Act.

3. Sharing. 

“Sharing operates on two levels: Sharing common goals and sharing ideas. First, if people do not share some level of common goal, they will collaborate to cross-purposes. Second, if nobody shares ideas, collaboration will not go very far.”

4. Coordinating. 

“Have you ever had the experience of a group discussion, in which you just cannot seem to get your timing right? Either you always interrupt before the speaker is done, or someone else grabs the floor exactly when the other person finishes, before you jump in. Collaboration requires a great deal of turn-taking coordination.” 

5. Perspective Taking. 

“A primary reason for collaborating is that people bring different ideas to the table. The first four ingredients—joint attention, listening, sharing, and coordinating—support the exchange of information. The fifth ingredient is to understand why people are offering the information they do.” Some great thinkers believe the ability to change perspective involves a higher IQ.

The point of the five collaboration ingredients above, is that organizations need to be mindful about how each of the skills exist in their populations. Tools like the G Suite help because they naturally reinforce many of the points above. However, it is important to be intentional about the individual behaviors as well. All five are ideally present and alive. The more advanced we are in each, the higher the collaboration impact.

Character Moves: 

  1. How effective of a collaborator are you? Are you self aware of these five ingredients? What score out of 10 would you give yourself? 
  2. Are you proactive on the five ingredients? That’s a personal brand differentiator.  

Big five collaboration in The Triangle,

Lorne,

One Millennial View: Fellow Millennials: If you truly think that collaboration will negatively impact your individual goals, then you may seriously be in a rare, toxic atmosphere. You’re better off risking being a company player than a non-participant that has seen too many movies where a main character gets burned. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

New ‘C’s’ at Work: Caring, Collaborating, Contributing, Communities

Abundance Be Abundant Collaboration Community

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Key Point: Advanced collaboration technology like the following Google G Suite applications; G+, Work Groups, Hangouts, Meet, etc., are helping to drive a work renaissance. The BusinessDictionary definition of community is: “Self-organized network of people with common agenda, cause, or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information, and other resources.”

At the company I work for, every Monday and Tuesday we have something called “Hangouts and Spotlights.” For 45-minutes, this virtual video/chat connection attracts people from a dispersed and vast geographical area, all with the common interest of advancing our leadership and culture. Consistently, we have 300 plus people (sometimes as many as 600) attend. I’ve been wondering why we get such consistent interest and participation. Yes, the speakers are interesting, the logistics are well done, and the facilitation is pretty good. However, I believe the primary reason is because the attendees have formed a virtual community. They not only show up for the content, they show up for EACH OTHER. Before the broadcast even starts, the emojis and quips are flying around the chat line. As the speakers engage the participants, the community becomes fully part of the narrative. The group (perhaps unknowingly), has now become the story. The presenting team is vital, but the “stars of the show” are the hundreds that question, provide answers, share their feelings and show their collective care. I wish I could tell you that I knew this would happen before we started. A colleague of mine believed in the initiative and was sure community would happen. I just didn’t get it. Now, I certainly do. 

We know that as humans, we love to solve problems, share ideas, information and support each other. Until recently, developing community in the workplace involved levels of complexity. It usually consisted of some form of face-to-face meeting, and that can be challenging. As much as we love to collaborate, we detest wasting our time. Now, digital collaboration platforms are making community easier and richer in every way. If you have a common interest, a smart phone, Internet access, and an application, you can have a community up and running in minutes (often utilizing full video as well as voice and text). Wow. People don’t need permission. The hierarchy doesn’t need to be involved unless they partake as genuine, and ideally equal contributors. Join and participate from anywhere at any time. And if the community loses its way or value, it simply and virtually disappears. In this world where complexity seems to be dramatically increasing, simplicity rules. 

The hidden and often most-underdeveloped value in organizations is the raw and unleashed value of peer-to-peer power. People have the ideas, solutions, answers and usually the skill we need. Employees’ contribution at every level is most often unfound and contained because the hierarchical structure of command and control, “consciously or unconsciously,” suffocates it. The customer driven urgency and survival needed to provide more value to others at greater speed is now complimented by super networks, smart devices and collaboration/communication software that is finally freeing up and allowing people to contribute as a true community. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Understand how to create and build community within your work place. Find those rich common causes and develop a movement of value for your colleagues. Learn the new collaboration tools and platforms that make community just “work.” Be part of the renaissance that puts peer-to-peer power to the forefront of organizations.

Community in The Triangle, 

Lorne

One Millennial View: I recently heard of an organization that started a new Slack group entitled “healthy snacks” to try and get its fad-diet conscious employees to organize how to make the kitchen more nutritional. Apparently it attracted monstrous attention from the top, all the way down… Everyone either wanted in, or said “good luck with that!” Point is – A topic so simple can bring an entire organization together to discuss, debate, problem solve, and eventually replace jellybeans with the newest Keto-friendly munchies (or whatever). What a time we’re living in. This communal conversation might seem complicated at first, but it’s healthier.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Peer-to-Peer Power 10x

Be Respectful Change Collaboration Respect

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Key Point: Peer-to-peer power. I thought I understood how important this idea was and then recently watched this principle blossom into something that made me realize it can truly be exponential in advancing both results and culture. 

My organization needed 50 people to lead a major initiative with the mandate to truly revolutionize the way we work; 5,000 plus team members contributing in much more collaborative and productive ways. We did NOT ask for leaders to recommend candidates. Rather, we outlined exactly what attributes we were looking for and invited people to “audition.”  The result was remarkable… Hundreds of passionate, excited prospects emerged, many that we would likely have never “found” through the normal channels. 

When we selected the final 50, they represented every level and other identity domain of the company; region, age, experience, gender, line of business, etc. We then asked them to leave their roles, titles and rest “at the door” as they came together for a 30 day boot camp. Their final output was to present a detailed framework for revolutionizing the way work; including but not limited to implementing a new productivity technology platform (Google’s G Suite), 10x better processes, measurable milestones, and so on. The “capstone” presentations that represented their work were given thus past Friday, followed by a “graduating” ceremony and celebration. The content of the work was stunningly exceptional. 

As the cohort gathered in a circle to recount how the 30-day boot camp experience impacted them personally and professionally, it was somewhat “jaw dropping” in the most inspirational way. The respect, gratitude, growth and overwhelming sense of collective accomplishment was astonishing. I have seen teams come together in the past, but this was something special… Actually, magical.

The experience and observation reinforced that unleashing more of this peer power is a vital competent of modern organizations. The principles include and are not limited to the following:

  1. Provide for people to raise their hands and audition; transparently invite passion to prevail over managers’ nominations and selections.
  2. Bring people from every part of the company fabric to come together as a dedicated cohort to bust artificial silos into oblivion.
  3. Let titles and position stature become subordinate to the ideas, imagination, and unique skills of a cohort.
  4. Understand that people will come together in deep care and respect for each other if the purpose is clear and values/expectations are intentionally stated.
  5. Recognize that many “hives” of these groups coming together in short powerful sprints will revolutionize the organization.

This is the way work should and will be done. Yes, we will have individual responsibilities and accountability. And we will have a direct “boss.” However, much of our time and contribution will be spent on strategically important initiatives where we can jump in and give our most incredible best. This will involve providing an organization/social platform where a genius collection of skills, attributes, imagination and ideas prevail over traditional vertical structures. How powerful… How democratizing… How profoundly 10x better. It will result in a work revolution. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you could raise your hand and audition for an initiative that could change your organization in a 10x way, what would that be? Who would you like to work with? How fast could you come up with exponential recommendations? What stops you from doing it? How could you change that? 

Peer Power in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Wow, how cool. Y’know? More and more, I’m under the impression that some people make up their own roadblocks and create reasons they are unable to “raise their hand” and propose 10x improvement. It could be fear, or wanting to maintain comfort, or a million other misinterpretations… But I’d be willing to raise my hand and bet that as long as the objective has the intention to benefit the whole company, anyone can deliver their idea to any higher up worth their salt. Auditioning can be scary, but if you never do it, you’ll never get the part. (Little tip straight from Hollywood, ha). 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Social Physics, Slack, Google and More

Abundance Be Abundant Collaboration Organizational leadership

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Key Point: The nature of work is being transformed right in front of us. One way or another, we are all impacted and involved. The connected digital world is giving us new collaboration and communication tools that are mind-blowing, really. Legacy systems like email may soon be gone from the work place. If you think this is unlikely, ask anyone under 30 how often they use personal email today. 

I’m writing this blog from the Google Next conference in San Francisco. The Moscone Convention Center is filled with thousands of people from around the world, all committed to determine how cloud-based solutions (including new productivity tools like Google’s G Suite) will reinvent business models and ways of working. Honestly, after sitting in one presentation after another, it feels a little like I’ve just dropped LSD. I’m on a somewhat weird and exciting trip where part of me wants to stop the room from swimming, while the other can hardly wait to see what’s next. (I’m a product of the 60’s, and for the record, have never dropped acid).

One simple live demo at the conference today involved seeing a team working together, real-time, from multiple locations, connected visually and collaborating on the rollout campaign for a new coffee company. The live demonstration only lasted about 10 minutes, yet one could actually see how a distributed team of people in both San Fran and New York (including an outside ad agency), could creatively explode from scheduling a meeting to completing one, (with the outcome being a fully completed product launch campaign in HOURS). That historically would have taken weeks, at best. Organizations where people need assistants to schedule meetings (instead of using a meeting bot), or send things to others in attachments, wait for approval from central sources, and have things handed to-and-from other groups, will get CRUSHED.

I am not overstating this. As an example, one of the world’s most prestigious management consulting/accounting firms, PWC, migrated to the G Suite with 250,000 users in 150 countries and their internal study found that on average, employees gained NINE HOURS of increased productivity per PERSON/WEEK.

More importantly, it increased the quality and speed of innovative work from the right people in the right roles at exactly the right time. Case studies showing breakthrough results from companies in all industries are just beginning to get published. Look out if you’re not on this flight path. 

Yesterday, I met with execs from Slack, the sizzling hot Silicon Valley company that millennials and project teams like to use for real-time messaging and communication. Slack has been a viral consumer-type product; now growing up to become enterprise and Google is zipping up their Hangout product to take Slack head on. At Slack, their best thinkers are leaning on research from people like Dr. Alex “Sandy” Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to Pentland, creativity is born of two processes: The first is exploration, where people move out of their comfort zones and actively seek people with different views and ideas. The second is recognizing that engaged groups have a collective intelligence that is mostly independent and better than the intelligence of individual participants. However Pentland, whose book on the matter is entitled Social Physics, also points out that by cleverly processing  “big data,” it is possible to identify patterns of behavior, just as scientists once worked out the laws of the physical world. Pentland asserts that understanding social physics lets people “tune” social networks and obtain the results they want. This allows certain aspects of human life—from how companies operate to even how communities work—to be “re-engineered” to make them more efficient.  And of course if you actually “Google” Pentland, you can watch one of his videos taken from… You guessed it… Google’s campus. My point is that this not just rewarmed “team” stuff. This movement involves the best brains in the world using data and science to reimagine teamwork. 

We know that accelerating peer-to-peer collaboration will unleash greater creativity, harnessing groups that become more engaged and autonomous. Work will likely be more rewarding. In full flight of exploration is the relationship between group effectiveness in conjunction with machine learning/artificial intelligence, and data science. And that whole world is rapidly evolving.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn how to use EVERY part of the G Suite or a similar tool set in your personal life if you can’t at work. Get darn uncomfortable with this new way.  And by the way, I sure as heck am. How fun and exciting! 
  2. Learn everything you can about the Cloud, AI, Big Data, and do not think it’s for tech folks because we are all tech people now. In fact, I think the coolest fusion is “Geeks & Jocks.” Be hybrid (and recognize that no amount of reading helps me understand why the market values Snap at $30+B???? Haha).

Socially Physical in The Triangle,

Lorne  

One Millennial View: This is the best “if you can’t beat em, join em” situation that most of us could ask for. Resisters have already lost without knowing it, so everyone might as well enlist! I certainly don’t see any negatives, and it truly is exciting to start incorporating G Suite and Slack into your professional lives (I use both). Find your gurus, read their stuff, follow their Instagram, listen to their podcasts, and start figuring out how to implement their practices into your own routines. Gosh, remember when science and technology may have been boring in the classroom? Times have changed.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Head in the Cloud

Accountability Be Accountable Collaboration Time Management

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Key Point: We can’t afford to waste time redoing work. I was reminded of this the hard way last Thursday night. The experience negatively impacted my readers, writing partner/editor, company team members, dinner guests, and me. I was very frustrated and this cascaded to my executive assistant and IT support team as well.

I write my blogs in advance of the night Garrett and I review it and schedule publication. We know it’s important to our readers to receive the blog consistently (every Tuesday and Friday like clockwork). Quite a few of our North American readers make it part of their personal routine to read it first thing the morning it’s published. So it’s important not to miss. It usually takes me 1.5 to two hours to write the draft of one blog. This past week, I wrote blog No. 2 of the week on a Tuesday flight to Toronto. After getting the draft done, I saved it on my device, an iPad Pro. I knew I had meetings all day Thursday and a dinner meeting Thursday night, resulting in a very tight timeframe for Garrett and me to review that night before scheduling publication for Friday 5:00 a.m. PST. As soon as my Thursday all-day meeting ended, I grabbed my iPad and expected to pull up my draft, add a few finishing touches, send to Garrett and head out to my dinner. Easy, peasy.

Surprise… All my company email had completely disappeared off my device. My blog, sitting in a draft folder in outlook, was inaccessible. Two hours later, after heroic efforts by my exceptional assistant and a top notch IT teammate, my email was restored. However, the event permanently wiped out my draft blog with zero recovery options. So two hours late for my dinner meeting and having to do a complete rewrite, well frankly, I lost my energy and practical window to create a new blog. Garrett, his ever creative and resourceful self, wisely chose to write an apology blog and attach a helpful article. You know the rest.

With current advanced cloud based networks like Google’s, the process of digital work is changed forever. I’m writing this blog in my Gmail account, and that is now securely stored in the Google cloud. So what happened last Thursday will not happen to me again. I will never press “save” again and store content in a folder held on servers behind a fire wall and/or on any device. With my drafts in Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, etc, my blog will always be available. All I need to do is grab ANY device, log in and my stuff is always there. There is a remote chance that the Google network could go “down,” but if that happened we’d likely be experiencing some catastrophic “world” event in which having access to my data would likely be a secondary priority.

Cloud based storage and fantastic productivity/communication platforms like Google’s G Suite results in the work experience changing for the better, forever. Accessing content from anywhere there is internet access, on any device, at any time, allows us FREEDOM and CHOICE; two huge contributors to personal happiness. And how we work is being transformed as well. Being able to video connect individuals and groups easily, having multiple people from anywhere working on a single version document, resulting in one version of truth, integrating with search, etc. etc; well the possibilities regarding reinventing work are limited only by our imagination. It is very exciting, and possibilities for 10x work improvement are literally endless.

In my new role as Chief Evangelist, my team and I have the unique opportunity to make Google’s G Suite platform available to 5,000 of the best teammates in the world. Thinking about how these superb workers are going to apply this tool set/platform almost makes me giddy with excitement. The key thing to understand is that this initiative includes superb new technology AND is also first and foremost about being able to contribute and create more effectively, individually and collectively. We will also be able to more seamlessly integrate work into the way we want to live today!! This is BIG and it is TRANSFORMATIVE! Lucky us.

Character Moves:

1. Commit to working and creating with the most modern collaboration, communication and innovation tools/platforms/systems available. In today’s work this means your digital device has platforms like Google’s G Suite and applications like Slack, WhatsApp, Linkedin, etc.

2. Recognize and embrace these modern platforms from the perspective of living with more autonomy, unleashing your creativity, connecting better with others and becoming richer in every way. And as I often say: Do it now because you’re worth it.

Clouds in the Triangle,

Lorne

P.S. if you need any help learning to use these digital tools /platforms find a 9-year-old like my grandson; they are excellent tutors and fun to hang out with too!!!

One Millennial View: As my Dad knows, I often have to push myself to “do it now.” I can be a world-class procrastinator, and sometimes try to convince myself that I’m magically “more effective” if I’m on a tight deadline (probably B.S.). Thankfully, these easily accessible applications play a huge role in my professional and personal life, and despite any challenges that 2017 might bring, it’s incredible what we have access to. What a time. There’s no excuse not to utilize them.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis