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Sustaining the collaborative mindset

In a previous post I touched upon the behaviours associated with the different levels on the maturity continuum.

At the level of Dependency you tend to see Collusive behaviours.  Rather than challenge ideas and processes a dependent individual seeks to avoid risk and conflict in order that their survival is assured.

At the level of Independence the desire for status, recognition and reward drives behaviours that enable the individual to stand out from others.  We see Competitive behaviours.

At the level of Interdependence the quest is for the synergistic solution, a solution that requires the combined efforts of a group and so we see Collaborative behaviours.

What happens when the group searching for the synergistic solution gets into difficulties, when the level of challenge and conflict within the group may get a little too intense? Could it be that rather than choosing to give the response that keeps collaboration alive, an instinct / reactive response is given to a stimulus such as someone challenging an idea?  An instinctive / reactive response is not a PROACTIVE response.

If a group abandons collaborative behaviour the only place to go is back to the competitive behaviours.  When this happens you will see defensive behaviours, blaming, judging emerge.  The group breaks down and the competitive individuals can emerge and seek to dominate proceedings.

How do you sustain the collaborative mindset – where the output of the group is greater than any individual?

The art of collaboration is turning conflict into a positive force – in the spark of conflict lives creativity.  I’ve already discussed the concept of being RESPONSE-ABLE and choosing to be PROACTIVE.  A useful paradigm to help with this is PERCEPTION IS PROJECTION.  Essentially, this maxim suggests that what we perceive in other people is merely a reflection of our own self, otherwise how would we recognize a behaviour in someone else.  Acting as if this is true helps keep relationships collaborative, if making judgments about others (defensive behaviour or competitive behaviour is based upon judgments) is merely describing your own behaviour, why bother?

Being RESPONSE-ABLE and recognising that every behaviour has a positive intention and can be used to propel the group to a synergistic outcome is the way to sustain the collaborative mindset.

In future blogs I will explore more of the attitudes and beliefs that help sustain the collaborative mindset.

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The Starting Point for Collaboration

Lets be clear here, if there is just one of you there is no collaboration.

So on the basis that collaboration requires at least two parties there is an essential pre-requisite that has to be fully developed within the mindset of all potential collaborators!

This is not the joint outcome, nor it is the Relationship Management Plan. It’s not even the potential gain to be made as a result of working collaboratively and delivering extra value for the client. The essential pre-requisite is none of the above.

On the basis that two or more parties are choosing to collaborate to find a synergistic solution to a deliver a client’s objective the essential pre-requisite is the attitude of the collaborators to each other.

The best way I can think of describing what I mean here is the Maturity Continuum as described by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his best selling work, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

For a collaborative relationship to be effective the essential pre-requisite is that all parties come from an INTERDEPENDENCE mindset.  Choosing to be INTERDEPENDENT is a choice only INDEPENDENT people can make.  People that have achieved INDEPENDENCE in life may see this level of achievement as the ultimate, as having achieved Self-Mastery.  The fact that two or more INDEPENDENT people can achieve something much greater by choosing to be INTERDEPENDENT is a revelation to most.

Before a person achieves INDEPENDENCE they are in a state of DEPENDENCE where they rely on others for what they require to exist.  A DEPENDENT person cannot operate from a mindset of INTERDEPENDENCE as they have not developed the character of an INDEPENDENT person.

This is important in the field of Collaborative Behaviour as with each level of maturity comes a set of behaviours.

People that are Dependent tend to demonstrate COLLUSIVE behaviours.  These people rely on others for what they need and hence they go along with what others want, not wanting to rock the boat for fear of depriving themselves of a livelihood.

People that are Independent tend to demonstrate COMPETITIVE behaviours.  These people have the confidence to put themselves forward as being able to deliver a solution and believe they have the resources to compete against others to ensure they win the race.

People that are Interdependent tend to demonstrate COLLABORATIVE behaviours.  These people recognise that by choosing to collaborate with others a truly synergistic solution can be delivered.  These people recognise that by working effectively with others the synergistic solution is far greater than anything they could deliver by themselves.

Being INTERDEPENDENT and being COLLABORATIVE is a choice made by independent people that truly understand there is only so much that can be achieved by themselves – true greatness and success lies in working effectively with others.