Collaboration is a natural human practice. Yet we tie ourselves in knots on how best to train people to collaborate. If we didn’t make work complicated with concepts that interfere with natural human collaboration like hierarchy, ownership, scorecards, practices, and more, we might find the outcome easier. There’s much we can learn from the simpler world of toddlers.
Once small children move beyond parallel play and want to play together any parent will tell you that there are a few simple rules to be reinforced to help a child understand how best to play with others. Most of these rules relate to taming the nascent toddler narcissism:
- You can’t make someone else play with you
- Do something you both want to do
- You need to share – If there is a scarce resource, make sure you both get a go
- Talk about your goals, problems and frustrations – they don’t know what you know
- Be nice to each other
A lot of collaboration problems could be solved if we just asked everyone in our organisations to put aside their fancy ideas and complicated systems and followed the collaboration rules for toddlers.