Tag Archives: Collaboration

The Deals that We Make

understandingWhen you want something as a kid, you are willing to agree to anything (almost) in order to get that thing.  “I PROMISE”, you say emphatically.  And “I won’t forget”.  But once you had the item, did you do what you promised, did you forget?  You got what you wanted and if it was a candy bar or other sweet it was likely long gone by the time that you were supposed to fill your end of the bargain.  Where was the incentive for you to take action?  Gone, forgotten.


Now that you are an adult, you always fulfill these promises, right?  No part of you reverts to the childish ‘make me’ thoughts that went through your head and possibly came out of your mouth when you were encouraged to complete your end of those childhood bargains.


I remember, back in the days before computers made writing up school papers such a breeze, one late night when my brother told my mom that he would wash her kitchen floor for the rest of his life if she would finish typing his paper due the next day.  Even if he would move far away she asked, yes even then he answered.  As a mother, she knew it wasn’t in her best interest to agree, but after getting him to type up the first couple of pages (correction tape, you have no idea the hassles…) she conceded she would complete the paper.  She had received awards for typing speed (on a manual typewriter, not even electric) in her school days and was done with my brother’s paper in record time even though it was a science paper and therefore full of formulas and other nasty things to have to type up.  (Footnotes were torture on a typewriter.)


I don’t recall how many times my brother actually scrubbed the floor, but it became part of family legend when negotiations came up.  I think that mom’s bargain was a win-win though because she got a lot of mileage out of it, my brother’s reward in this case was short lived.  And it didn’t cost her that much in effort since typing was a skill that she had mastered.  Plus she had a grateful teenage son for a couple of days which is priceless.  I had plenty of bargains gone bad of my own with mom, none so memorable, that all came back to haunt me as my children started to strike bargains.  (Oh, the pull of wanting a happy child.)


We make deals all the time that we might believe we will readily fulfill in the heat of the moment.  But human nature is such that once the incentive to act is lessened or gone; the pull to ignore this responsibility can be great.  What did we learn in the aftermath of our childhood negotiations, were we required to uphold our end?  What is our relationship with the current deal holder & will we have any need to do business with them in the future?


The most important consideration is the covenant that we have with ourselves.  This becomes the incentive which can drive us to fulfill our agreement regardless if we’ve already received what we originally wanted or needed.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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Esprit de Corps

esprit de corpsI was talking at dinner recently with a friend who has been working on some big structural changes for her department that are driven by the whole company.  These changes will help all the folks on her team have more clarity in tasks.  It has been a tremendous amount of work for her to define all these new roles based on need, company structure and employee skill sets, but the hard part has only begun because she has to craft the best way to present this change to the group as a whole and to each individual on the team.


An important job for middle managers is to translate and appropriately implement company changes for the team.  The manager needs to have a solid understanding of the intent behind the plan to figure out how the plan will affect the atmosphere of the team and be prepared.


The French have a good phrase for the atmosphere of the team, esprit de corps.  The literal translation is spirit of the military unit but the definition has expanded from the original military meaning to encompass a sense of unity, common interests and responsibilities.  Merriam-Webster also includes, ‘a strong regard for the honor of the group’.


Team player is a phrase that we hear a great deal these days, one that can have very different meanings depending on the level of the person using the phrase.  The team dynamic is determined by structure imposed by your organization as well as by the type of work and the process applied to complete that work.  The atmosphere of the team, the esprit de corps is predicated on all the members of the team, regardless of level within the hierarchy.


Working is a whole lot more pleasant if you like what you do, where you do it and who you do it with – simply stated.  Workers have a certain amount of control over what they do in respect to choosing a profession.  Workers have a certain amount of control over where they work in respect to deciding whether or not to accept a job offer or stay at the current organization.  Co-workers, like siblings, are pretty much the luck of the draw, though there is a potential of maneuvering into a different department within the same company where you think you might be a better fit or getting into a place by way of a friend.


The area where the worker has the most control in this context is how each decides to contribute to the esprit de corps.  Seeing this in terms of showing our regard for the honor of the group gives each of us a power to represent Aristotle’s quote that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ in a new way.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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Shall We Dance? A Happy Story of Collaboration

We know that there is strength in numbers; it has been proven time and time again throughout history.  We should use this knowledge in our work life to our advantage as well as for the organization’s success.  Finding one or two people either in the same department or your counterpart(s) in another department, especially if you have complementary strengths is a good exercise.

There are many good reasons to collaborate, ponder this one:

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Collaboration will strengthen the end result of the project because each person can bring their own point of view which includes their experiences, emphases, and expectations.  Shared knowledge gets richer.

“Our future depends on being clever not individually, but collectively.”

~ Matt Ridley

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~ Margaret Mead

When I was younger, I wanted to go it alone so that no one could make fun of me if they didn’t like what I was doing and so that I could garner all the praise for myself when it went right.  As I got older, and especially working in a very complex organization, I realized the value of seeking out compatriots.

It started out merely as discussion, but grew into process changes that benefited many.  The department that I worked in handled only one part of customer transactions since these tend to work cross departmentally, and we began to realize that if we took a look at the transaction process together, we could improve it before we had difficulties.   Additionally, we each grew in our overall knowledge as we continued to work together.


Try it out, dancing is better with a partner.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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