Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Collaborative Cultures-Grow Your Own

A quick note that this fourth in the series will be the final in the series. As mentioned earlier, the way I perceived this in the beginning shifted as so many things do over time. Possibly because I am constantly seeking new information and talking to other people on these topics such a shift is inevitable.

In the last post we looked at the key skills for collaborative success:

• Accountability
• 360 Communications
• Emotional Intelligence
• Change Resilient
• (Servant) Leadership
• Self-motivated
• Problem solving/critical thinking
• Continuous learning and knowledge sharing

And took into consideration that companies that were created within the last fifteen years tend to be less hierarchical, have greater flexibility and understand the power of collaboration more so than organizations that have been operating for a longer period.

Learning Organizations-Matters More Than Ever

The concept of the Learning Organization is not new and many businesses have implemented some form of internal learning practices. Becoming a learning organization in a more substantial way is a basic need to 'growing' a collaborative culture in an existing organization. If you are not familiar with Peter Senge's work, reading his books and articles is an excellent place to start to understand what components make up a learning organization.

Establishing mentoring and peer coaching programs are excellent resources to get started with. Bringing people together in these forums offers excellent opportunities to build solid working relationships. Encouraging cross-functional mentoring pairings and peer coaching groups will create the basis for a collaborative culture. While some formal structure is needed to ensure these programs get traction, maintaining as much flexibility as possible and allowing for groups to develop their own operating codes offers a micro learning environment as they identify and resolve problems in the process.

Mentoring and Peer Coaching programs help to reduce the unwanted effects of silos, build bridges across functional teams, clears the way to mitigate the 'reporting up' issues often found in hierarchies. Ultimately this allows employees to focus outward on the customer rather than inward on meeting the needs of management. Dave Gray writes an eloquent book, "The Connected Company" that offers illumination to this concept.

Imagine that your employees focus is on meeting the needs of customers!

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