Team Building and Collaborative Thinking
One of the major concepts of building a team, and one that remains very elusive, is the concept of collaborative thinking. While it sounds like a basic concept, the issues in trying to achieve this are deeply rooted in individual ego and fear of failure.
The idea of collaboration relies on an individual being willing to adjust their thoughts to allow other ideas to build upon them. While it is all too easy to have others follow ones own ideas, the concept of allowing another idea to change the initial direction can create a knee jerk reaction and defensiveness of position.
Creating a collaborative project relies heavily on all parties being willing to drop their ego and to allow a new idea to emerge that is a combination of all participants and not weighted heavily towards one person. Consider the old camp game where everyone in a circle would add one word to a growing story. The resulting story would be the result of everyone’s individual imagination and not at all weighted towards any one person’s thoughts.
That level of commitment towards collaborative thinking can drive teams towards more creative output and a positive work environment. The concept of saying YES to every idea put forth and to allow those ideas to build upon previous concepts creates a growing narrative, rather than opposing ideas which can stifle any project.
However, one of the biggest issues with creating this sort of collaborative environment is a fear of “failure.” Failure is a concept that is largely created either by individual employees or by the environment of the office. Most people would agree that failures can often lead to greater successes (i.e. Post-It notes are an infamous failure of adhesive). Yet, too often, we fear the imagined consequences of “failure” and avoid even attempting a new idea, rather than taking a risk to see what we can find.
Changing the environment of an office, where employees feel free to try new concepts without the fear of repercussions due to presumed “failure” can energize a group to new discoveries.
One of the things we have discovered in our team building workshops is that the organizations that more often celebrate the attempt, rather than criticize the results, tend to be more successful and retain their employees longer.
Employees that are motivated towards new ideas, rather than carefully trying to avoid failure are happier, stay employed longer and deliver more creative results than those that are continuously trying to simply fly under the radar without risk.
Consider if your organization is based on incremental success without the possibility of failure, rather than allowing your employees to take risks, with enormous potential for learning or future success.