How to Rewire Your Teams for Maximum Collaboration

Do key leaders in your organization only think about their ministry area and not the entire organization?

Divisions are necessary in all organizations, even churches. They provide the structure that allows your ministry to function smoothly. Every organization is divided into divisions, functions, or some type of grouping. Doing so allows each group to develop the special skill sets needed to make it function.

But when departments or functional areas become isolated from one another it causes problems. Leaders often refer to this as creating silos.

But organizational silos can also cause problems – the same structural benefits listed above also prevent the flow of information, focus, and control outward. In order for an organization to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.

To break the down the barriers of silos in your organization, the goal is not to destroy the meaningful structural divisions themselves but to eliminate the problems that silos cause.

Many organizations will face the following barriers:

  • Uncoordinated decision-making
  • Competing priorities
  • Dilution of energy and effort

The following excerpt will provide your organization tools to help break down the silos in your organization.

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THE QUICK SUMMARYMidnight Lunch, Sarah Miller Caldicott

Thomas Edison created multi-billion dollar industries that still exist today. What many people don’t realize is that his innovations were generated through focused approaches to teamwork and collaboration.

Authored by the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, Midnight Lunch provides an intriguing look at how to use Edison’s collaboration methods to strengthen live and virtual teams today.

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A church accomplishing its mission requires many people working on multiple teams to be successful. Often, these teams drift into a pattern of accomplishing things “their way,” erroneously thinking that what’s best for their team will be best for the organization as a whole.

This lack of coordinated decision making across the organization is the third indicator of silos in the organization.

True collaboration operates like an invisible glue that fuses learning, insight, purpose, complexity, and results together in one continuous effort.

Thomas Edison viewed true collaboration among his teams as a value creation continuum, recognizing that complexity was a norm that all team members needed to understand and address. Here is a four-phase model of the collaboration process that translates Edison’s decades of groundbreaking practices into language for the 21st Century leader. A core question serves as a launching point for the exploration of each phase.

> How do we create the foundation for true collaboration to flourish?

Phase 1 – Capacity: Select small, diverse teams of two to eight people who will thrive in an environment of discovery learning and collegiality.

> How can our collaboration team reframe the problem at hand, driving the greatest range of creativity and breakthrough solutions?

Phase 2 – Context: Focus the outlook of the team toward development of new context that broadly frames the problem or challenge under consideration. Use a combination of individual learning plus hands-on activities to drive perspectives for potential solutions.

> Can the collaboration team stay the course and continue forward despite disagreements?

Phase 3 – Coherence: Maintain collaboration momentum, creating frameworks for progress through inspiration and inspirational leadership even though disagreements may exist. Newly discover, or re-emphasize, the shared purpose that binds the team together.

> How can our collaboration team leverage internal and external networked resources nimbly and with speed?

Phase 4 – Complexity: Equip and reskill teams to implement new ideas or new solutions using internally and externally networked resources, rapidly accessing or managing complex data streams the team must navigate. Leave a footprint that contributes to a broader collective intelligence.

Sarah Miller Caldicott, Midnight Lunch

A NEXT STEP

Church leadership teams aren’t working to invent the next light bulb, but Edison’s Four Collaboration Phases can be instructive for leaders who want to break down silos on their teams

Within the four phases of capacity, context, coherence, and complexity lies the invisible glue that can help your organization develop true collaboration practices to achieve your mission.

Phase 1 – Capacity

Create your own “midnight lunch” experience by ordering pizza or other takeout food. Pick a unique place in your normal environment that is not normally associated with regular tasks, or go offsite. Use the informal atmosphere to foster conversations about interest areas of all your group members. Actively listen to the conversations, and develop a deeper level of knowledge – and connection – with your teammates.

Phase 2 – Context

As a team, take 10 minutes and create an individual list of the various sources of information you draw from each week. Does your team see a pattern in their lists? Now challenge them to create another list of five additional sources that will intentionally shift the context of their information-gathering. During weekly meetings, take five minutes to share how this new context is broadening their ministry context.

Phase 3 – Coherence

When team members begin to use self-referencing language (I, me, mine) more than team-referencing language (us, our, ours), it is an indicator that defenses are being raised and the team is in danger of losing coherence. Often, the language of the team is the first indicator of a team losing its momentum toward a shared goal. Lead your team to be constantly aware of their language, and guide them to practice inclusive language by first modeling it yourself.

Phase 4 – Complexity

Among all organizations, the church has the most potential for the existence of excessive hierarchy. To overcome this, lead your team to clear away internal roadblocks which add unnecessary time and complexity to your process. The use of the strategy map process above can be both a beginning point and continual guide to your journey toward simplification.


Closing Thoughts

Cooperation, communication, and collaboration are three keys to breaking down the organizational silos that are keeping you from achieving your mission.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 9-3, March, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

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Is It True Collaboration… or Is It a Team?

At Auxano, we practice what we preach.

Editing

Our primary tool for working with organizations is the Vision Frame, consisting of Mission, Values, Strategy, Measures, and Vision Proper. Before we led the first client through the process over 11 years ago, the original team of Will Mancini, Jim Randall, and Cheryl Marting worked out Auxano’s Vision Frame – which we still follow today.

One of our Values is Collaborative Genius, which is accomplished partly by the fact that we are a virtual company of over 20 team members living in 15 cities across 4 time zones.

I only thought I knew what collaboration meant!

In my adult work career, I have served as the accountant in an office setting for a food services company, an audiovisual technician as part of a team of 7 for a seminary, various roles on 3 church staff teams, a church consultant for a design-build company, and as the Vision Room Curator for Auxano.

That’s 36+ years in an environment of multiple team members, ostensibly working together for the good of the organization.

Was I collaborating with others, or merely part of a team?

Collaboration is not the same thing as teamwork. Teamwork is simply doing your part. Collaboration involves leveraging the power of every individual to bring out each other’s strengths and differences.  – Greg Cox, COO, Dale Carnegie, Chicago

At Auxano, we don’t just do our part, we collaborate to deliver excellence in all we do. Here’s a great example: our book summaries for leaders, called SUMS Remix.

The original concept of SUMS was dreamed up by our founder, Will Mancini. When I joined Auxano as Vision Room Curator, it was natural that the SUMS project fall under my guidance. Working from a curated list of books with a focus on the Vision Frame, I read the designated book and wrote the draft summary with recommended resources. I then oversaw the following process:

  • Proofing by Mike Gammill, a scholar and grammatical genius
  • Navigator Applications written by 4 of our full-time Navigators, applying the concepts to the local church leadership context thru their unique lenspowered by auxano
  • Editing by Cheryl Marting, who has eagle eyes
  • Review editing by Angela Reed, a production editor at our parent company, LifeWay
  • Design by James Bethany and our Creative Team, who produce a visual masterpiece every time
  • Final review and approval by Will

Beginning in the fall of 2012, every two weeks, a SUMS was distributed to the SUMS subscriber list. Practically every day of that two weeks, some of the actions above were taking place within our team as we work on multiple books at the same time.

That’s collaboration.

As we neared the end of our second year of SUMS, Will and I refined a concept that came to be called SUMS Remix. Instead of a single summary of one book, SUMS Remix consists of brief excerpts from three books, focused on providing simple solutions to a common problem statement that ministry leaders are facing every week in their churches.

SUMS Remix launched in November of 2014, and we release an issue every two weeks. And a similar collaboration process described above is still taking place.

The collaboration process for SUMS Remix is very similar to the one above, but on steroids! Because SUMS Remix involves 3 books for every issue, and we have a 5 week production cycle, and we release an issue every two weeks – well, without collaboration, it just wouldn’t – no, couldn’t – happen.

At any given time during that 5-week cycle, books are being read, notes are being taken, drafts are being written, drafts are being revised, additional research is being conducted, finished drafts are being designed, proofs are being reviewed, and the final SUMS Remix issue is being delivered.

That’s collaboration!

Want to see the end product of that collaboration? You can learn more about SUMS Remix here.

Midnight LunchI’m indebted to Sara Miller Caldicott, great grandniece of Thomas Edison and author of the book Midnight Lunch, for translating Edison’s world-changing innovation methods for use in the 21st century. Here are some of her thoughts on collaboration:

True collaboration embraces:

  • A discovery learning mindset versus a pure task orientation
  • A belief in anticipating and creating rather than merely reacting and responding
  • Presence of inspiration across multiple facets of both individual and team endeavors
  • Coherence of purpose
  • A dedication to elevating the performance of every team member
  • Connections to human and social networks of influence

Do these qualities sound different from the ones valued by your team? Do they draw upon ideas that feel new or seem broader than your current concept of what teamwork embraces?

Based on my experience, the answer would be yes.

So what are you going to do about it?

 

 

Is It Time for an “Orange Revolution” in Your Organization?

If you asked who invented incandescent electric light, and you answered Thomas Edison, you’d be right – and you’d be wrong.Edison lightbulb

On October 22, 1879, the remarkable bulb dreamed up by Edison, drawn by lead experimenter Charles Batchelor, mathematically proved by Francs Upton, built by craftsmen John Kruesi and Ludwig Boehm, and tested by experimenters John Lawson, Martin Force, and Francis Jehl, burned for thirteen and a half hours.

Darkness had been illuminated forever.

The revolution that Thomas Edison wrought was the product of a team, in spite of how history books tell the story. We love the idea of a lone genius, the mastermind, the hero. We’re indoctrinated from an early age with the single-achiever ideal in school. For a fifth-grader, it’s easy to say Edison = light bulbs.

The reality is very different; geniuses build great teams.

Edison – one of the most brilliant minds in the world – accepted that he alone did not possess all the answers; but together, his team usually did.

What would you do to have a high-performing team that generates its own momentum – an engaged group of colleagues in the trenches, working passionately together to pursue a shared vision?

How about starting a revolution?

orange revolution 1For centuries the color Orange has been connected with revolutionary events. Most recent are the election events in the Ukraine, but there have also been Orange uprising in Ireland, China, England, and the Netherlands.

These revolutions signaled a transition – a spirited quest driven by people to improve the world around them.

Why shouldn’t your organization possess that same passion when it comes to creating, strengthening, and enlarging the teams that serve?

You can begin an Orange Revolution in the hearts of your team members and leaders focusing on conquering barriers, expectations, and stagnation.

Welcome to the revolution.

I will be leading The Orange Revolution at WFX in Dallas October 2-4. For an overview of WFX, go here. To learn more about the education and training available, go here.

Stay tuned for more on The Orange Revolution coming soon!

Why True Collaboration is So Crucial NOW

No organization is immune to the shifts set in motion by current global tides. Its ripple effects have shaken the very foundations of how business is being conducted today, continually reshaping our view of how leaders, teams, and customers react. Our core challenge is to acknowledge where and how to embrace true collaboration as the centerpiece of this new ecosystem.

Thomas Edison knew this in the late 1800’s.

Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grandniece of Thomas Edison and author of the book Midnight Lunch, believes that the notion of a collaboration ecosystem linking innovation, strategy, and value creation stood at the heart of Edison’s laboratories as well as his manufacturing empire.

Caldicott believes that there are three major forces to be aware of in designing an effective approach to collaboration today: complexity, metalogue, and reskilling.

The Rise in Complexity Due to Massive Generation of Data and Real-Time Synthesis: The accelerated pace of technological change has erased familiar industry boundaries, opening the way for rapid formation of new markets. A tsunami of data can now be consumed – and generated –by individuals armed with mobile phones and other smart devices.

Although operating in a different technological era, Edison embraced complexity as a fundamental component of collaboration itself. Embracing complexity rather than sidestepping it represent a hallmark of Edison’s true collaboration process.

The Rise of Metalogue as a Tool for Creating Purpose and Connection: Feelings of fragmentation yielded by economic and technological shifts have depended the need for connection and common purpose across large groups of people. Communities, organizations, and governments face an imperative to hear the opinions of diverse constituencies that now can generate influence outside of traditionally recognized channels of decision-making or authority.

Edison’s true collaboration process recognizes the central role of collegiality and team discipline as crucial components that lay the groundwork for dialogue – and ultimately, metalogue. He maintained a high level of team coherence even when pressures mounted by grounding his teams with an understanding of how debate and conflict could be constructively harnessed.

The Need for Reskilling Workers in the Innovation Age: The broad availability of smart devices paces new emphasis on what people can potentially create rather than what they already know. Skills linked to knowledge sharing, such as effective communication, adaptive thinking, and cross-generational leadership, are gaining new prominence in realms where functional expertise formerly dominated.

Edison’s four phases of collaboration offer a unique platform for embedding collaboration as a superskill in your organization using discovery learning and hands-on engagement rather than tired classroom-style approaches. Instead of pushing lectures to teach creativity and problem solving, Edison’s experiential approach engages the reskilling process by activating creative centers of the brain and thereby developing large neural networks that drive learning more deeply than task-based or fact-based approaches.

The underlying mechanisms of Edison’s true collaboration process are a crucial priority for every organization. Organizations that engage true collaboration as a backbone for their innovation, value creation, and team development will remain thriving and nimble in the face of constantly shifting economic and cultural forces.

Collaboration is not just a nostalgic look into the past or a hoped-for future aspiration – it is a necessary organizational survival skill needed now.

This has been a multi-part series being reposted in honor of Thomas Edison’s birth February 11, 1847

Edison’s Four Phases of Collaboration

As noted in yesterday’s post, I’m learning a whole new definition of “collaboration” in my role of Vision Room Curator at Auxano.

Webster’s defines collaboration as “the act or process of collaborating” – meh.

According to Sarah Miller Caldicott, great grandniece of Thomas Edison and author of the book Midnight Lunch, Edison viewed true collaboration as a value creation continuum. If one were to find a single notebook entry capturing Edison’s definition of true collaboration, Caldicott believes it would read something like this:

Applying discovery learning within a context of complexity, inspired by a common goal or a shared purpose.

True collaboration for Edison operated like an invisible glue that fused learning, insight, purpose, complexity and results together in one continuous effort.

Translating Edison’s decades of groundbreaking practices into language for the 21st Century leader, Caldicott has developed a four-phase model of the collaboration process.

 How do we create the foundation for true collaboration to flourish?

Phase 1 – Capacity: Select small, diverse teams of two to eight people who will thrive in an environment of discovery learning and collegiality.

 How can our collaboration team reframe the problem at hand, driving the greatest range of creativity and breakthrough solutions?

Phase 2 – Context: Focus the outlook of the team toward development of new context that broadly frames the problem or challenge under consideration. Use a combination of individual learning plus hands-on activities to drive perspectives for potential solutions.

 Can the collaboration team stay the course and continue forward despite disagreements?

Phase 3 – Coherence: Maintain collaboration momentum, creating frameworks for progress through inspiration, and inspirational leadership even though disagreements may exist. Newly discover, or re-emphasize, the shared purpose that binds the team together.

How can our collaboration team leverage internal and external networked resources nimbly and with speed?

Phase 4 – Complexity: Equip and reskill teams to implement new ideas or new solutions using internally and externally networked resources, rapidly accessing or managing complex data streams the team must navigate. Leave a footprint that contributes to a broader collective intelligence.

Edison leaves us a legacy we can return to over and over again as we newly shape a future that embraces the highest and best of our collaborative spirit.

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.    –Thomas Edison

Go Aheadastound yourself…

A multi-part series being reposted in honor of Thomas Edison’s birth February 11, 1847