Do you ever give collaboration any conscious thought? I hope so, because it is integral to virtually everything you do, and certainly a key aspect of any leadership role. After all, collaboration literally means “working together” and no organisation can exist unless people work together. So you could define management as “the art or science of enabling people to collaborate more effectively.”
Actually this definition of management may be more powerful and profound than you realise, for it makes people paramount: it makes them the centre and the circumference of management and reinforces the fact that, as a leader, managing people is the most important aspect of your job. It is powerful because it exposes something you possibly never consciously recognise: that your people are your brand! Your
Collective intelligence can be defined as the knowledge and applied ability that emerges from collaboration, with research indicating that new learning is created by people sharing their knowledge to solve problems.
This means that collaboration is both the cause and consequence of collective intelligence. It also means that the quality of each depends on the quality of the other.
Unfortunately there is no direct measure of collective intelligence, but it nevertheless remains an aggregation of the applied knowledge and ability of your people. And the degree of application determines the power of your brand. Thus you could say that your results are your ultimate performance. That, however, is not just glib, but it also lacks any element of assessment against what is possible – against what might have or should have been.
Imagine for a moment you have taken delivery of a new top-of-the-range Ferrari. You would not take it onto the roads and then drive everywhere in second gear. That would not only be a complete waste but it is ultimately not good for the gear-box or the car or even its fuel economy. Well, having disengaged employees is like running that Ferrari in second gear. How well do you think your people are collaborating if they are unfulfilled, or not realising their full potential, or are disgruntled at the way they are being treated? That’s why – even if it is an abstract, umbrella term – employee engagement is so important. If you don’t optimise individual intelligence and capability, you will never realise or release the collective intelligence (the horse-power) you have available. It is just as much of a waste.
Now ask yourself, “How much of this ‘human economic waste’ is there in my organisation?” It is most likely your single biggest hidden cost. So if you want a successful, optimal, lean organisation eliminating this human economic waste must be your major focus. (After all, lean management is all about eliminating unnecessary waste.) And where do you start?
It has to be with collaboration. To develop good collaboration you must begin with the individual and the only way you can optimise the individual is to activate their primary intrinsic motivators that we covered previously, viz. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose. The self-optimisation will ignite both the will to collaborate and the quality of the collaboration and fire the collective intelligence.
Then you will have your “finely tuned” organisation delivering sustained results way beyond what you currently have and which you may currently only dream of.