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Power Boost Collaboration By Dropping 1 Little Letter

Are you keen to shake up the 'way you do things' and get people pushing above the status quo, thinking and ways of working? While for some places the focus is on steadying the ship in these crazy times, others are seizing the opportunity to capture the learning culture that is emerging in their organisations.

It means stepping into the arena of co-creation as a team. Real collaboration takes the step above cooperation and coordination and intentionally looks to evolve. It comes to life when there is a rich learning environment. One that sees failure and mistakes as critical parts of the journey. Challenging our assumptions, beliefs, frameworks and processes are important elements of a robust learning culture.

But - how do we stop the habitual dynamics? Or the 'when it goes back to normal' thinking? Here we are, wanting to challenge the humdrum thinking that is now outdated or something that just could do with a good 'looking at'. But we're wary - we don't want to create World War Three, or have people think that we are' having a go' at them. We need good robust debate without the baggage!


How do we do it? How do we challenge thinking without people taking offence and either withdrawing or attacking?


As a group, articulate that you are creating a challenge space, where challenging the norm is wanted and invited. Be clear how you want to react and act in this space. Make sure everyone has voiced what they need to be able to be in this challenge space and have safety to voice their thoughts and feelings. Below you'll see my collaboration stances approach - Sensemaker; Challenger; Supporter; Experimenter. The hardest? Challenger by far for most teams- we get so weird about being curious about our thinking and putting it under the microscope! Instead we often see it as attack.

But the BIG shortcut to get everyone involved:

When you're tossing things around and want to increase the group's perspective, unearth assumptions or pull things apart, just drop one little letter off. Yep - just one - and it's a 'y'.

Too often when we challenge thinking, we come from an 'I' position and say: 'I'd like to challenge your thinking.' There is that pesky 'y'. Unless you've worked hard at setting up psychological safety for challenge, division, expectation of criticism and fear of judgement raise their ugly heads.

Change the statement to: 'I'd like to challenge OUR thinking.' and the world shifts from judgement to wondering and curiosity. Our authentic willingness to challenge our own thinking models the debate and deep dialogue space we often desperately seek from our teams. Be prepared for the microscope to turn on you along with everyone else. It creates partnership and exploration not conflict and defensiveness.

Shifting language from 'you' to 'our', 'I' to 'we', ' me to 'we' are culture-changers - and collaboration-makers.

My mantra - collaboration is learning out loud. Great collaboration has every person walking away having learnt something. Is your collaborative culture evolving beyond merely cooperation?
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PS - Shout to Jo Brandis who sparked the thinking for this blog.

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