Hidden Collaboration

Trees in a forest can work together to share resources and support each other. The universe is held together by the gravity of dark matter we can’t see. There’s a lot going on we can’t see and that includes the collaboration in our organisations.

We focus on the successes of individuals. We celebrate these highlights. What we tend not to see at all the little moments of support, encouragement and enablement that make success possible. The human equivalent of the ‘world wide wood’ or ‘dark matter’ holding our organisations together is everyday collaboration in everyday work.

We may set individual targets but our organisations run on collaborative efforts powered by trust and norms. Imagine if you had to negotiate each individual element of support or every step in an organisation process that supports your work. In functional organisations, this support adapts and changes as needed to just everyone performs. That change is powered by purposeful change agents making things better for everyone.

In a worldwide wood, the vehicle of sharing is fungi woven with the roots of trees. In our organisations, this collaboration and adaptation runs along the lines of communication from informal corridor conversations to formal strategy presentations. The give and take of the organisation flows from its interactions.

An engaged and agile workforce is one that is constantly communicating- customer needs, market changes, problems and opportunities. It is also communicating the less visible interpersonal elements of mutual understanding, shared context, alignment and trust. Little moments of give and take build powerful cultures of trust and support.

Nilofer Merchant coined the Success Equation as follows:

Success = (purpose x talent) raised to the power of culture.

As I have said before, the rewards to a collaborative, learning, and supportive culture are exponential. However, too many let this be the hidden and unmanaged part of their organisation.

We invest a massive amount of time development and resources to support individual achievement. We run the risk of missing the networks of support and learning that make that achievement possible. Spend as much time and money on the hidden collaboration that powers performance and you will be rewarded.

One thought on “Hidden Collaboration

  1. …and so often we reward individual contribution and performance when we need or want teamwork, co-operation and collaboration – may even state those as values!

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