June 22, 2017

Collaboration is Killing Progress!

Are you experiencing “death by meetings” or a slowing of project progress because your team is waiting for buy-in from 5 different departments (that are not really involved)? Are you told to invite a list of people, but more than half that list doesn’t show up, or they ask to constantly reschedule because your project is low on their priority list?

I am not sure when this happened, but at some point, the boardroom meeting table has become the equivalent to youth sports – everyone gets a trophy – everyone gets a seat at the table. Business as usual is now superficial collaboration instead of getting stuff done and personally, I am over it. It is killing progress and the ability to be agile.

If you are over-collaborated, there is a good chance you are experiencing:

  • Slow decision making
  • Inefficient and ineffective meetings
  • Missed timelines
  • Unmet goals
  • No alignment to bigger initiatives
  • Little ownership from other departments
  • Unfocused innovation
  • Crushed motivation
  • Projects rushed at last minute rather than accomplishedto the full potential

It isn’t working and it’s frustrating everyone from your team, to your contractors, to your outside partners. There are two areas that can be improved to keep collaboration part of positive progress:

  • Planning
  • Innovation

We will start with planning first.

Regardless of your personal views on climate change, the Paris Agreement achieved greatness in its planning model; set a global goal – have each country submit their plan to achieve it, then an oversight team tracks accomplishments. The simplicity is mind numbing. In true adulting fashion, the concept is say what you do and do what you say.

Apply this model to a corporation.

At the highest executive level, set goals, customer roadmaps, and enterprise initiatives. Then have departments submit their plans for achieving or aligning to those items. The byproduct is that you no longer feel the need to invite everyone to every meeting, just to cover your bases. With purpose that aligns to great goals and initiatives, your focus becomes clear, as does your meeting invite list.

And consider this for a moment – if you create a plan that aligns to the corporate vision, and it is approved and you need budget for it, there is no need to convince anyone it is the “right thing”. You are already aligned with overarching goals and the need is justified.

Next, innovation. Everyone wants innovation, yet no one knows how to manage it. Therefore, everyone is always in improvement mode and will hold meetings for even the most outlier idea. As nice as this sounds, we all still need to get our day to day tasks complete.

Luckily, our Covalent team wrote a full blog post series called Innovation That Fits. The post series covers the following:

  1. Types of Innovation: Compares “revolutionary” innovation and “evolutionary” innovation.  The approach to innovation you choose should fit your organization’s long-term goals, business challenges, and corporate culture.
  2. Leveraging Team Personas to Support Innovation: Explores how to identify and leverage the different roles that foster team innovation by understanding each contributor’s unique persona.
  3. Creating a Culture of Innovation: Discusses the drivers of team culture and how to foster innovation within the corporate community.
  4. Developing the Innovation Skillset: Takes a look at the top skills that drive innovation and how the organization can develop a framework that supports ongoing education.
  5. Measurement, Adherence, and Corporate “Lifestyle” Changes: Innovation is a corporate lifestyle change, that requires success metrics, robust data, and tracking early on.

Read the series and take the time to learn how innovation can serve the greater good, through process, people, and metrics.

Please do not misunderstand me, collaboration is not bad. However, it does need to be focused for it to be productive. Hopefully, with a planning model and innovation plan, your meetings once again become purposeful.