Utilizing Differences to Build CollaborationPublished December 16, 2015
In the post below, Ken Blanchard (TGLS 1995, 2000, 2005) shares insights from his new book on collaboration.
In our new book, Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster, my coauthors Jane Ripley, Eunice Parisi-Carew, and I explain the importance of building a culture of collaboration in your organization.
Believing true collaboration is the responsibility of every individual, we define five elements each person must consider when accepting their specific role in helping to create that culture.
The UNITE acronym makes these elements easy to remember. Every collaborative leader must be able to Utilize differences; Nurture safety and trust; Involve others in crafting a clear purpose, values, and goals; Talk openly; and Empower themselves and others. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of utilizing differences.
Many people think if a group working together allows differing viewpoints, it might create disagreement, which would be a bad thing. However, we believe conflict in collaborative groups is good—as long as discussions stay focused on the issues and disagreements don’t get personal. In fact, conflict can be the basis for breakthrough thinking that leads to revolutionary ideas.
Ask yourself these questions to see if you are a collaborator who makes the most of people’s differences:
- Do you believe everyone has something to contribute?
- Do you ensure everyone in your group is heard?
- Do you actively seek different points of view?
- Do you encourage debate about ideas?
- Do you feel comfortable facilitating conflict?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, congratulations! You are well on your way to being a first-class collaborator who embraces diverse points of view within your work group. If you answered no to any of them, you know where to begin your journey to effective collaboration.
Organizations operating in today’s global economy have workforces comprising multiple generations with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and temperaments. This guarantees significant disparity among people in almost every work group. The ability to utilize these differences for the greater good will determine the success or failure of your project—and possibly your company. Remember—collaboration begins with you!
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About the Author
Ken Blanchard is the co-founder and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, an international management training and consulting firm. He is a trustee emeritus of the board of trustees at his alma mater, Cornell University, and he also teaches students in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program at the University of San Diego. His iconic 1982 classic, The One Minute Manager®, co-authored with Spencer Johnson, has sold more than 13 million copies and remains on best-seller lists today. In 2005, Blanchard was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 best-selling authors of all time.
Years at GLS 1995, 2000, 2005