Today, I want to continue to share my enthusiasm for collaboration. This practice has the potential to finally remedy the injustices of our world and put us on the right path to a better future for all. In fact, this is the only reasonable approach to solving our mega challenges and after two years into this crisis, it became clear that the Covid-19 is a multifaceted problem requiring dialectical thinking, thus collaboration.
Therefore, in this blog post, I will continue to equip us with important knowledge for the journey ahead. We are only at the start of a wonderful path together and I have lots of plans for all of us! The Dream is already here, waiting for us to be ready to grab it.
Collaboration is far more powerful than cooperation
Many people do not distinguish between cooperation and collaboration. So let me first clarify this, because we will never succeed in solving complex problems with a cooperative approach.
I am not saying that cooperation is not good in certain circumstances. It’s very good for linear thinking and complicated issues for example. But since we’re naturally good at it (even too good, when you see our appetite to run for solutions), there is really no need for more cooperation training, while there is clearly a huge void to be filled for a successful collaboration.
Read below on the main differences between cooperation and collaboration and why it’s important to know them:
- When collaboration is a real distribution of power, I see cooperation more as an aid to power.
- With cooperation, the responsibility of the project can be shared equally among different partners but usually the accountability is not. The “ownership” remains in the hands of the person or department that called the cooperation in a first place.. One failure I see a lot at the moment, is that we are doing cooperation, while requesting from people a sense of co-responsibility. It cannot work! If we want to move towards accountability, we need to change our approach and adopt collaboration instead, which means shifting both our focus and attitude, as we continue to see in this list…
- For cooperation, the goal must be known in advance to ensure a more efficient process. In the case of collaboration however, it’s much better to have a fuzzy purpose, to unleash the creativity and motivation of the players in the long term. I know our leaders would feel more comfortable manipulating the collaboration to ensure it leads to the “right” outcomes. But I’m sorry it cannot work this way. Especially, if we want more trust, which is the most powerful currency of the Anthropocène era. And, let me remind you that we cannot buy nor mandate trust! (repetition and propaganda also have the opposite effects…).
- Cooperation calls for control on both the process and the desirable outcomes. While collaboration is all about about relationships and safe space thus contributing to release individual and collective power. This calls for a huge shift from control to letting go. Something most people are really not comfortable with, especially our dear leaders (who still behave more as managers).
- And so, whereas with cooperation, we are more managing activities, tasks or others; collaboration calls for self-management and self-awareness first and foremost. With collaboration, we realise that to change others, the authoritarian approach is unproductive. So we first work on ourselves, as the person who will model the behaviours we need from others. Let me remind you that I shared them on this blog, click on the coleadership tag.
- Finally, collaboration needs other new business drivers that we saw in my previous articles. Efficiency and stability that work well in the case of cooperation become unproductive drivers, if not blockers, in the case of collaboration.
I hope you start to get convinced that the benefits of the collaboration shift will be huge. In fact, when we choose to collaborate, we really bring the cooperation to another level.
For example, it is the collaborative approach that will best maintain motivation and accountability, even in the most challenging periods. It is also this approach which will best allow the emergence of the collective intelligence, and synergies with the famous equation: 1+1=3 (or even more).
Truly, the collaborative journey will be so much enjoyable and fulfilling. Moreover, it’s high time to seriously address this crisis. The cost on our children in particular has been too high.
But the best things are also the most difficult. So collaboration requires a new set of skills, and in particular it requires us to reach a certain stage of maturity.
The link to adult development
To move towards collaboration, the first thing we need to learn is to let go in order to increase the impact. It is by putting in place the conditions for letting go, that we will multiply the chances of success. In fact, the more we control the results, the more we increase the risk of failing.
I could tell you, ok it’s easy from now on, we have to let go! But I know from my research that it won’t work this way. I know we have to be convinced in our bones first of the need to let go. So instead of the prescriptive counterproductive approach (which we unfortunately see with the vaccine mandate strategy), we can use some fundamental lessons coming from Sartre and Kierkegaard.
What they tell us is that we are not the “being as we think we are now” (it would be impossible to grasp it anyway, because the present does not last). In fact, our state is to be in constant metamorphosis, so we are the “being in becoming”.
Inspired by this, let me ask:
- What place do we leave for your “being in becoming”?
- How often do we find ourselves defining ourselves?
- And finally, are we ready to let go of who we think we are to allow a new – ideally better, more aligned with core values – being to develop?
These questions are not trivial, as they will allow us to close the gap for good between our current and ideal states. And definitely, it’s best to have our ideal being contribute to a collaborative journey, from my experience 🙂
Today we tend to blame our leaders for not managing crises in an appropriate way, but we can also consider that we, citizens, also have a leeway to become super citizens.
Unlocking ourselves will have a great impact on a more fruitful collaboration, thus making us an exceptional civilisation that only leaves great gifts to the next. I recommend we use some time to reflect on this in the coming days.
Mastering the void
Let’s continue the analysis to extract the important knowledge for our collaborative journey.
In order to let go, co-leaders develop a key competence of adult development, and it is the mastery of the void.
This involves finally accepting that the void is what precedes and follows us. Furthermore, it is about developing this confidence that its power lies in the in-between, in our day-to-day life. This means learning to feel comfortable with moments of silence and isolation, doing/thinking nothing (ideally) or just focusing on the breath.
When we, co-leaders in becoming, master the void, we do not only become highly creative, we also liberate creativity around us. Another key to success.
Displaying an unstoppable energy
In the same vein, as co-leaders, we need to learn to feel comfortable with our own ignorance and feeling of helplessness. In fact, it is what will allow us to protect our precious default energy, which is excitation but also optimize our unique value, in whatever form or shape.
Before the Anthropocene epoch, we needed generalists and polyvalent people. In the Anthropocene era, we are desperate for more specialists with a growth mindset and critical thinking, as well as sensemakers (filters and bridges). But I will cover all of that in a future post that will better define the why of co-leadership for those who wish to delve deeper with me.
As co-leaders in becoming, we also need to develop a compassionate attitude, knowing that all our collaborators will have to follow the same challenging development path, as us. Again, Sartre teaches a powerful lesson, when he reminds us that we are not all feeling comfortable with the concept of freedom. A benevolent and non-judging mindset is a must.
Finally, to conclude this article, we have to learn where to focus to make the best of our talents for the group. And most of all, learn when it’s the moment to become unstoppable.
We are at least 1 billion co-leaders in becoming on this planet and, my goal is to ensure we all become unstoppable soon! It also means we have to be comfortable with the craziness of this massive ambition, yet the only way to make the Dream come true. Now is certainly not the time to freeze or worse yet press STOP.