Imagine you’re the parent of a kindergartener and you’re looking at a rowdy muddle of children laughing and playing together. . . How did your 5 year-old learn to collaborate in the middle of all of that? It’s simple – they used their heart. They weren’t old enough to use their heads. Five year-olds are not logical, they are emotional.
You may be thinking, “that’s because kids don’t know any better.” My response is, “that’s exactly my point and that’s where we need to be.”
Why stop after Kindergarten with ‘sharing your lunch’? What if we could instill conviction about using our heart to collaborate deeper and avoid the ‘I’m going to eat your lunch’ attitude and behavior that usually takes over in the workplace?
That sounds great, so where do we go from here?
Today we confuse feeling with being. Just because you feel collaborative doesn’t mean you are. If collaboration begins with feeling collaborative in your head, then it will disappear as soon as the benefit of collaborating disappears. For example, we know how to be collaborative when things are going well, but we stop when there is money or reputation to lose.
When you learn to be collaborative and collaborate deeper – with your heart – you change as a person. After this change, you are more likely to collaborate even if there is risk of losing money or reputation. That’s the distinction between feeling and being.
This change – being collaborative – becomes second nature, like breathing. You evolve from (1) having to make a conscious effort to (2) not even realizing it until after you’ve experienced it. That’s where my collaboration journey started and where yours can as well.
We know learning to collaborate deeper means doing it the right way, working from the inside-out by being collaborative first. But instead we do it the wrong way. For example, in the design & construction industry, we pour our energy into technology and work process improvement – using building information modeling and lean manufacturing principles. But we neglect the ‘human’ side of the project, where collaboration really needs to start.
“Yep, but it just ain’t in us and I’m tired.” Or, “It just ain’t in us to do it . . .you know, collaborate deeper.”
This may sound funny, but it’s true. “It ain’t in us to do it.” This is the dilemma we face when working with others. It just ain’t in us to behave the same when we’re at risk as when things are going our way.
Actually, there’s evidence it is in us. Project teams are converting emotions, such as pride, into humility to strengthen trust among team members. Teams are rethinking legacy business structures, such as ‘selecting a team for a project based on price,’ and instead creating work arounds in order to select the ‘best team for the project.’ Lastly, investment in specific collaboration training is growing.
It is in us. . . to use our heart to collaborate deeper. So, go out there and start sharing your lunch.