I discussed collaboration with Zane Safrit yesterday morning on his hour-long Blog Talk Radio show. You can listen to the show here.
When he was CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited, Zane masterfully used blogging as a marketing and business tool. His small company, based in a rural Iowa community, adopted collaborative culture and tools as an advantage in a marketplace saturated with large players. Zane is a super-capable, collaborative leader.
Our conversation ranged from common denominators and motivators for companies wanting to adopt collaborative culture and the biggest mistakes companies make. We also discussed the need to replace star-oriented culture and the role of collaboration in an economic recovery.
Zane asked me how companies can balance the need for collaboration with the need for consistency, routines and procedures. It’s a thoughtful question that organizations should consider. I explained that it’s necessary to include collaboration in policies and procedures, so that people are consistently collaborative J.
Towards the end of the show, we focused more on the economy. Zane asked me about the biggest trends regarding collaborative culture over the next two years. Here’s what I said:
People are going to realize what collaboration is and what it isn’t, and I absolutely believe that collaboration will help deliver us from the downturn. We need to abandon the herd mentality. I blogged about this on March 15, 2009 with a call to action. You can read the post here.
There’s a misconception that collaboration is about running with the herd. Real collaboration involves constructive confrontation….coming together to hash out issues, make decisions, improve processes and develop products and services. And it’s much broader than companies. It’s about governments collaborating across agencies and departments, with citizens and with other governments. It’s about people working together to create value in our communities.
It’s about changing education so that we’re developing collaborators. The more educated people are, the more competitive they are. Our educational system beats collaboration out of us. That’s changing.
I’ve lived and worked in smaller communities where many people get jobs right out of high school. They’re used to working together to cook dinner at the VFW or help neighbors repair tornado damage. It’s this type of attitude that we need to nourish in our country, in higher education, in companies, in and among governments. Coming out of this downturn, star culture and internal competition are unaffordable. Collaboration will drive the recovery.
“How will that change our economy, culture, country?” Zane asked me.
It’ll be back to basics…working together to create real value. The mortgage mess, the financial collapse were rooted in artificial value. We gave the keys to the country and the economy to star competitors… the best and the brightest who went to top schools and competed for themselves without considering the bigger picture. Now we need to entrust our companies, governments and communities to collaborators. And we’re going to build long-term, sustainable value.