Archives for posts with tag: collaboration

While driving in to work today I was hit again (and again) by the fact that many of us operate from a set of disparate ground rules.

For example, while two lanes are merging into one, my ground rule is that we take turns. One car from lane 1, one car from lane 2, and so on.  This morning (and other mornings) I observed that other people have different ground rules – or at least a different understanding of how the rules operate.

One opposing view is “If there is a pause in the action I will try to fit my car in the lane whether it is my lane’s turn or not.”  Yet another is, “I will wait until there is an ocean’s width of space so as not to disturb the magnetic field resonance surrounding my car.”

Many other examples exist in real life:

  • 15 item express lane
  • 4 way stop signs
  • No turn on red
  • No left turn
  • No stopping
  • No talking during the movie
  • No cell phone use

Everyone applies there own interpretations to the rules. So…why the post?

The reason is you may want to take this same set of paradigms and challenge the assumptions that underlie the ground rules from which your teams operate. Ask yourself:

  • Are your team’s ground rules been written down\agreed upon?
  • Are they understood by all? Really understood?
  • Have any assumptions about the rules been tested?
  • Do you review them at each meeting?
  • Does the team take responsibility for them?

Do you (and your team) sit around complaining about your customers, clients, peers, (boss?) Complaining about how they don’t know what they really want, need, care about? Stop.

Stop complaining and ask them. Don’t project what you think they want, need, care about based on your wants, needs, cares. Request it from them and listen – even if it is different from what you think it should be.

This weekend I participated as a volunteer facilitator at one of the largest townhall meetings ever held in the US – over 3500 participants in 60 cities, hundreds of facilitators, taking place over 6.5 hours! The topic of discussion was the US Economy and Budget. The goal – listen to facts, discuss our differences, and come to a majority decision on a number of choices aimed at reducing the budget by $1.2 trillion.

The experience was amazing. First, the organizational and logistic planning was impressive and well executed. Second, working with a table truly diverse in age, gender, race and income proved to me that we can come together, listen to each other, make decisions that benefited an entire society and not just ourselves. I had participants who were able to listen to the stories told by others and change their views in the moment on sensitive topics, including healthcare, social security and spending on defense.

Here are the stats on the diversity of the participants. I encourage you to visit the link above, learn more about how democracy can really work, and think about how you can bring the “voice of the people” into your business, community, home.