Thursday, February 11, 2010

Collaboration (Hansen): Part 4

This is a cross-post from my blog on the military Social Media tool milBook.

This will be the third part of an overview of the book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results © 2009 by Morten T. Hansen. This post focuses on Chapter 4- Lever 1: Unify People and Chapter 5- Lever 2: Cultivate T-Shaped Management.

By way of review, leaders follow three steps to accomplish disciplined collaboration:

1. Evaluate Opportunities for Collaboration

2. Spot Barriers to Collaboration

3. Tailor Collaboration Solutions

The three levers used by leaders to tailor collaboration solutions are:

1. Unify People

2. Cultivate T-Shaped Management

3. Build Nimble Networks

Lever 1: Unify People

Hansen outlines three unification mechanisms:

1. Creating a unifying goal: In order to be a compelling unifying goal, it should meet 4 criteria:
- The goal must create a common fate
- The goal must be simple and concrete
- The goal must stir passion
- The goal must put competition on the outside

2. Inciting a core value of teamwork: Leaders need to give voice to the value of teamwork, put it in a values statement, and include it in a list of leadership competencies. But as they preach teamwork, they need to beware of three sins:
- Small teamwork kills collaboration
- Everybody do teamwork now (Except those of us at the top)
- Teamwork becomes the point of it all

3. Speaking a language of collaboration: The language a leader chooses matters a great deal in shaping behavior. They can use language as a powerful tool for cultivating collaboration.

There is a dark side to all of this. Unification runs the risk of absolving the individual of responsibility. To combat this danger, leaders practicing disciplined collaboration complement unification mechanisms with individual accountability mechanisms. They need to match unifying goals with individual goals, a value of teamwork with a value of individual responsibility, and the language of accountability. That's disciplined collaboration.

Lever 2: Cultivate T-Shaped Management

T-Shaped Management involves both delivering results in their own organization (the vertical part of the T) and deliver results by collaborating across the organization (the horizontal part of the T). They are willing to reach out to ask for input and also help others when asked. However, they are also disciplined enough to say "no" to collaboration when it doesn't produce value.

Two fundamental ways of growing the pool of T-shaped managers exist: selection and change. Some organizations don't believe that people can change, so they focus on selecting the personnel that exhibit T-Shaped behaviors. Others work on developing these attitudes.

Promote T-Shaped, Not Other Behaviors:
Disciplined collaboration requires that organizations promote people who practice T-shaped management, not others. Leaders must create a new mechanism that sets new criteria, collects data, evaluates performance, and rewards T-shaped management with promotions.

Pay for performance is a powerful lever, whether it is in the form of salary hikes, bonuses, or stock options, but it is plagued with problems. Two popular schemes often undermine cross-unit collaboration: -Unit Performance Only and Corporatewide Incentives. One produces sub-optimal results as each unit strives to maximize its own results, and the other can cause individuals to underperform as they feel their contribution to organizational performance does not matter. A good incentive, on the other hand, links money directly to collaboration. This can be done if data on collaboration is collected and can be evaluated (see above).

Transitioning an existing team to T-shaped behaviors requires dedication, and includes these four steps:
1. Fire laggards
2. Promote and recruit for T-shaped behaviors
3. Pay for T-shaped behaviors
4. Coach for T-shaped behaviors

These two levers have more to do with providing an incentive for people and organizations to practice disciplined collaboration. In a military context, the incentive (or directive) is there. The barrier that is more prevalent is the barrier to conducting effective collaboration. That will be addressed in the next post.

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