Building a collaborative workplace


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A presentation to the Victorian Public Sector Continuous Improvement Network (VPSCIN) on the 2 March 2009

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  • Within a month of joining IBM in 1999 I was off to Boston to learn about a new software product code named Raven.
    It eventually was called Lotus Discovery Server - auto expertise location
    On the flight home I wrote an internal memo for the product manager called “Some possible behavioural ramifications of LDS’s Knowledge Map” and earned my place on the Global Services team to design the product’s services roll out.
    It was the beginning of my interest in how you get people to collaborate and the role software has to play. It was all about fostering behaviour change.
    And that’s what today’s presentation is all about.

    Now, who has ever tried to lose weight? Show of hands.
  • Everything I know about behaviour change in organisations I’ve learned from The Biggest Loser.
    Firstly we all know what to do. Eat less and exercise more. But it’s not easy.
    There are two questions we need to answer in the positive for ourselves before we change:
    Is it worth it?
    Can I do it?
    This is me at Xmas. So far I have lost 10kg. Here are my lessons.
    The same principles hold true for building a collaborative workplace but we need to start with one word.
  • Everything I know about behaviour change in organisations I&#x2019;ve learned from The Biggest Loser.
    Firstly we all know what to do. Eat less and exercise more. But it&#x2019;s not easy.
    There are two questions we need to answer in the positive for ourselves before we change:
    Is it worth it?
    Can I do it?
    This is me at Xmas. So far I have lost 10kg. Here are my lessons.
    The same principles hold true for building a collaborative workplace but we need to start with one word.
  • How do we know when we are collaborating?
    What are the specific behaviours?
    Now you can&#x2019;t say &#x2018;trust&#x2019; or &#x2018;reciprocity&#x2019;. They are values.
    Behaviours are something you can see happen and if you described them to someone else they could behave in the same way.
    Turn to your neighbours and identify three collaborative behaviours. Yell some out.
    This is the first step in effecting change. Identify vital behaviours.
    &#x201C;Team members speak out with respect and good intent when they see a problem and their team mates hear them out to work out how to address the issue.&#x201D;
    &#x201C;Community of practice leaders meet regularly to design the upcoming events for the community.&#x201D;
  • Is it collaboration when you&#x2019;re sent the yearly performance review spreadsheet and instructed to assess your staff&#x2019;s performance? Absolutely not; it&#x2019;s an act of co-ordination. Everyone is working separately to achieve the overall goal of conducting the performance reviews. Only a modicum of trust is required (trust in the system) to get the job done.
    So, is it collaboration when you meet with your team to work out the performance review process? Not quite. Here we are co-operating with our colleagues to deliver a task that we all know needs to be done. When we co-operate there is often a medium level of trust involved (trust in each other&#x2019;s competencies and character), the value of the activity tends not to accrue directly to the participants co-operating and, in most cases, someone else is driving you to do it. [1]
    So what is collaboration then? It&#x2019;s when a group of people come together, driven by mutual self&#x2013;interest, to constructively explore new possibilities and create something that they couldn&#x2019;t do on their own. Imagine you&#x2019;re absolutely passionate about the role that performance reviews play in company effectiveness. You team up with two colleagues to re-conceptualise how performance reviews should be done for maximum impact. You trust each other implicitly and share all your good ideas in the effort to create an outstanding result. You and your colleagues share the recognition and praise equally for the innovative work.
    Given this definition of collaboration where are your organisation&#x2019;s efforts weighted (show of hands)

  • Show of hands, who is familiar with the Cynefin Framework?
    Briefly describe the framework.

  • In April 2006 Cuu Huynh, 58 year old father of three, was tragically killed at the Fosters&#x2019; Abbotsford plant.
    Clinton McDonald, who heads up OH&S for the company, recognised that part of the problem was how OH&S was reported to the leadership team. They sent them too much information in a format that was complicated didn&#x2019;t allow the key issues to pop out at them.
    The challenge was getting agreement with all the stakeholders to change the way they reported.
    So he created a collaboration between the engineers, scientists, business leaders and OH&S practitioners and over a period of about 6 weeks reformulated the report.
    Collaboration requires a convenor.
    When the job was done the collaboration was over.
  • Now let&#x2019;s think of your own workplace for a moment.
    You might have invested in the latest communication software (Notice how I don&#x2019;t call it collaboration software ...)
    You have portals, discussion threads, project spaces, wikis, blogs, Sharepoint.
    But people are still taking credit for other&#x2019;s good work.
    There is still duplication of effort.
    People compete with one another and sharing is avoided
    Everything has to go through the chain of command
    And so the technology is used haphardzardly.
    Tell the story of the NSW CIO
    So how do you make your organisation more collaborative?
  • The people who represent the future are displaying behaviours which work. The first step is the find them then work out the vital behaviours.
    Don&#x2019;t bemoan people not using your communication software -- it will just reinforce them not using it.
    RTA - no time for collaboration - too busy with the upgrade - how about we get together to share experiences. Yep, let&#x2019;s do it.
  • Not everyone
  • Let me introduce you to Everett Rogers
    Everett Rogers gained his PhD in sociology in the 1960s and the first job he had was at the university in Iowa helping farmers adopt new strains of corn.
  • Dr Rogers talked to many farmers but none were interested in the new strain of corn even though it promised to deliver far greater yields.
    Because Dr Rogers was completely different to Iowa farmers.
  • He spoke differently, dressed differently, were interested in different TV, books, films. The only thing he had in common was the English language.
    But he persisted until one day he found a hip farmer who wore Bermuda shorts and fancy sunglasses who was willing to give it a try.
    This innovator used the new strain of corn and had tremendous success. So Everett went back to the other farmers with the results.
    But the farmers were doubly sure they weren&#x2019;t interested. This hipster dude was an insult to their culture.
    Everett dedicated his career to understanding this social conundrum.

  • There are a number of ways to Influence them.

  • A cross section of employees were then invited to participate in confidential discussion groups (&#x2018;Anecdote Circles&#x2019;), facilitated by the Advocates and held in Sydney and Melbourne, to see what stories people had that related to these themes.
    These Anecdote Circles provided us with rich, qualitative data that could never be found in a survey. The stories people told us gave us a picture of what is going on at Challenger.
    The Advocates distilled everything that they heard and agreed on the most compelling stories for each theme.
  • Initiatives included
    CoP for client service
    Capturing events on video
    Mentoring program
    MSC for client service stories
  • Cheryl Schiltz had an operation - a hysterectomy.
    There was an infection and an antibiotic was used that affected her inner ear (vestibular apparatus).
    She lost her balance and felt she was falling all the time. Even when she fell down she felt like she was falling through the fall. This is the type of feeling you have in your worst nightmares.
    Paul Bach-Y-Rita is a neuroscientist who changed her life.
  • Cheryl&#x2019;s brain has created new pathways.
    We need to create new pathways in organisations. This requires practice and repetition.
    New sensory input. Practice. Repetitions to create habits.

  • Building a collaborative workplace

    1. Building a collaborative workplace with stories Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    2. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    3. “Some possible behavioural ramifications of LDS’s Knowledge Map” Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    4. We all know what to do, but we don’t do it Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    5. We all know what to do, but we don’t do it Must be important Must have the skills Every trick in the book Goals Make exercise easy Record progress & tell people Put your gear where you will see it Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    6. Collaboration? Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    7. “I wonder if we could ...” Collaboration • Often requires specialisation on • Driven by mutual self interest • Requires high level of commitment on each side • Requires high levels of trust both sides • Creates new value • Value accrues to each party “We need to ...” Co-operation • Meets a business need; often • Value might accrue to one part or driven by a directive neither • Only requires medium level • Can succeed even if commitment is of trust uneven • Value often incremental “Get this done ...” Co-ordination • Often focused on one-time, short- • Driven by directive • Teamwork helps but not pivotal term goals • Trust not key to success • Value unlikely to accrue to people involved What is collaboration? Source: Economist Intelligence Unit Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    8. When to collaborate Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    9. Collaboration when needed Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    10. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    11. “The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.” — William Gibson Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    12. Who do you change? Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    13. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    14. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    15. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    16. Avoid like the plague Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    17. Effort here Avoid like the plague Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    18. Influence Pattersen et. al. (2008) Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    19. So what is the role of stories in all this? Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    20. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    21. Three journeys process Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    22. Ist Journey What’s the story of the change? In the past we did this ... Then something changed ... Now we are doing this ... And we are aiming to achieve this ... Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    23. Ist Journey What’s the story of the change? In the past we did this ... Then something changed ... Now we are doing this ... And we are aiming to achieve this ... Helping leaders find and retell their own stories “An organisation that values collaboration should be teeming with collaboration stories.” Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    24. Collect and make sense of stories Design initiatives Second journey Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    25. Implement Assess impact Adapt (3 monthly cycles) Third journey Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    26. Cheryl’s Balance Problem Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    27. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    28. So how do you build an even more collaborative workplace? Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    29. Understand and spread the word about what you mean by collaboration Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    30. Find your Gibson stories Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    31. Focus on your influencers Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    32. Embark on your three journeys Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    33. Consistency Reinforcement Practice Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    34. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    35. Questions? Shawn Callahan 0410 346 343 twitter: @unorder Tuesday, March 3, 2009