Collaboration As The New Currency

Ask yourself if these are thoughts you’ve had, or if you have heard these thoughts from others; and what price your organization pays when these situations occur.

  • We do not function as a team.
  • I have no idea what “they” are doing.
  • I am asked questions that I cannot answer.
  • My boss never lets me know what I am doing well.
  • The follow through after a meeting is not there.
  • We discuss things and never get the final decisions in writing to move forward.
  • Meetings are cancelled frequently with no new meeting made.
  • I have to keep track of my team because I do not know how or if they are moving forward.
  • My directs have teams that are not meeting the goals and I want them to do better

Team engagement in Strategic planning beginning at a high level can be part of the move to greater collaboration in the team. First a focus on communication, accountability and solutions leads to greater willingness and ability to vision and make decisions. Then using that ability and newfound familiarity with each other allows the strategic planning process to move forward successfully with full participation in planning and most importantly in implementation.

In my last post I introduced the Strategic Planning process, and discussed the first of the Four High Level Questions that I ask during the the offsite for the Strategic process.

1. Creating the Future—What Behaviors Do We Want to Bring Forward?
2. Expanding the Brand—Who Are We and Where Are We Going?
3. Investing in People—What Are the Important Values and Are They Aligned?
4. The Essential Elements for Growing the Business – What Values are Important to Our Customer?

I’m delving into the second question specifically today, Who Are We and Where Are We Going, which focuses on expanding the Brand, using high level strategic thought, expression and discussion from all team members that can then move into strategies for specific business areas.

The self definition of the first part, “who are we”, is something that is rarely brought forward in a strategic planning meeting. However, it is a huge part of creating engagement and the collaborative mindset that moves through the obstacles to unified action. As each leader gives their sense of the quality of the organization, what are the important goals, where are we going, and shares this with the team, it is amazing how much new information there is.

So often we assume we understand other people’s relationship to the work and we are just as often not accurate.

The second half of the question, “where are we going”, allows for the vision of each person to be brought forward within specific areas of the business.

During the last Strategic process offsite that I led, the confidential feedback given during the Team Alignment Strategic Interviews was presented in writing without identification. The team was then divided in half to come up with strategic goals for four specific areas of the business that were identified by the feedback given to the four high level questions during the individual strategic interviews.

The leadership team was then divided into two groups to begin the strategic plan. The feedback to the questions was available so they could see what others had presented. The connection between team members that was developed within each small group, was vital and occurred quickly following the team alignment process which had been held previously. So often strategic meetings are large and discussion is limited. Certain people often do not contribute in the group and may have thoughts later that are communicated to only one person, and more importantly, people do not become as engaged in the implementation as is necessary for a higher percentage of desired results.

In this particular offsite, the strategic plan, based on the answers to the four questions, brought forward a vision for the end of the current year, 1 ½ years forward, and three years ahead with clear action steps to create those results.

Because this was a Senior Leadership team of a large global unit of the business, each of the team members had a regional team to lead. Before participating in the Collaborative Leadership/Team Alignment process, these senior leaders were not aware of the challenges and best practices of their peers and the supporting teams. Accountability partnerships for completion of goals created consultation and support. Following the team alignment process offsite meeting, partnerships were created and SKYPE and phone calls used to have regular peer meetings with a partner, fostering the sense of connection and unity as the business is growing.

Once you have an initial strategic plan:

1. Create clear and measurable statements
2. Assign metrics for each strategic goal
3. Discuss issues and challenges of this goal
4. Map out clear Implementation steps
5. Establish accountability partnerships within the leadership team
6. Agree on next steps and due dates to be followed up on in the accountability partnerships

I  invite you to contact me via e-mail to create an appointment for a 30-minute free coaching/consultation appointment to discuss the strategic planning process in detail and to see what you can use for your next team meeting. Please provide the best number to reach you and three available times you can meet via telephone or Skype (if you have that available), and my office will call you to confirm an appointment.

As always if you have a thought, challenge or success story you’d like to share please be sure to leave a comment!