“Why can’t you just tell us what to do?”

This question came to me while I was facilitating a client session to help the organization develop a governance model for a new intranet. The asker was a low-level manager who would eventually be tasked with day-to-day management of the global company’s new intranet. He was frustrated with the exercises on strategy, roles, policy and guidelines. He wanted me to dictate best practices to them.

My response at the time seemed self-evident: if I tell you what to do, you won’t own it, so you won’t do it and you’ll wind up in this same situation in a few years. I was focused on why it didn’t make sense for THEM.

Finding more reasons why collaboration matters

Having just finished reading Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin (who will keynote at the IABC World Conference), I’ve realized several other reasons to engage the client team in a collaborative process.

  1. If they learned how to do it now, they could more easily evolve their governance model
  2. They would remember the experience better than if I simply told them what to do
  3. If I see their facial expressions along the way I can help them get to an approach that better fits them and their organization
  4. I crave the collaborative process

This first bit struck me in particular. Colvin says “…in real life, and especially in organizational life, we keep changing our conception of what the problem is and what our goals are.” I think it is that constant change that demands that organizations continue to evolve their governance models for the digital workplace. More importantly, he continues “…they must do it in groups… partly because groups can solve problems far better than any individual can.”

So, a group collaborative is just the right way to help an organization decide how best to govern their digital workplace. My telling them what to do is just the wrong way.

Built to socialize

Consider my last item in the bullets above: I crave the collaborative process. I really enjoy facilitating planning sessions. I love to watch the lights turn on in people’s eyes; I enjoy the give and take, push and pull between people as they work toward a better solution. I consider my collaborative approach with clients a differentiator for me in the marketplace, and I hope my clients find it to be a value-add.

How do your employees collaborate?

How do your employees collaborate?

Now, thanks to Colvin’s latest book, I understand that it is my nature, not just as a human, but also, as a woman. Colvin outlines what it is about we women that positions us perfectly for collaboration, people leadership and problem solving in the future workplace. One reason he proposes is:

“…women take a broader view. It’s true literally: Women’s peripheral vision is wider than men’s, while men focus more narrowly and at greater distance.”

Another insight: no wonder my clients sometimes don’t track with my view of the potential they are missing. I perceive things, see things and envision things differently than some of my clients. I’m well aware that I need to work hard to bridge this gap; perhaps what I’ve learned from Colvin will help me leverage my human nature to do just that.

This is of course not to dis the men in our profession; you guys are really great at other elements of the business process. Together, we can make powerful teams.

I highly recommend Colvin’s book. And, if you want a chance to hear from the author himself, join me in New Orleans at IABC’s World Conference, where Geoff Colvin himself will keynote. I can’t wait!

P.S.: Looking for insights into collaboration and governance for your SharePoint digital workplace? Check out this recent post for ALI’s blog on the topic.