I'm not a huge math fan. If excel had never been invented, I don’t know how my life would be functioning.
Due to some recent experiences though, I’ve come to know and love this particular equation:
Shared Objective + Personal Connection = Successful Collaboration
I don’t expect I’ll win any Nobel prize for this announcement; it’s likely taught in every single first year business class in the universe (I don’t know if it is, I didn’t take Business. You know, ‘ cause of the math thing).
But, like with most things, I had to wait until my heart truly GOT what my head already knew.
Let me explain where I’m going with this.
Successful collaboration in unfamiliar circumstances: 2 Stories
Goal #1: Don't suck
I have the good fortune to belong to a Book Club. Not, as my family seems to think, a Wine Club. It’s (really) a legitimate book club, with reading assignments and questions and articulate, thoughtful women discussing and debating the merits of the various books we choose; the objective of the monthly meeting is to dwelve into the reading material. As an old colleague of mine said a while ago: “sounds too much like English class”. Well, we DO have a school teacher in the club. And yes, there is also wine (duh). Ladies who like wine and ladies who like books are not mutually exclusive.
Back to my story. My Book Club took a field trip to a music trivia event. Way outside our comfort zone! Our ultimate goal was to “not suck” while raising funds for a worthy cause. None of us really having the first clue what we were doing, and none of us having a great deal of musical knowledge, we were able to work together quite effectively. Even in unfamiliar circumstances, we managed to come up with results that didn’t entirely suck, and the evening turned out to be an excellent experience. It certainly enhanced our team bonding and personal connection as we saw each other, and each other’s capabilities, in new ways.
Goal #2: Don't kill each other
My second example involves a workplace team spirit activity at an escape room experience. No one had ever been to one before, and it was pretty far outside of our regular workplace know-how. Like, really far.
Our explicit goal: escape. Our implied goal: escape without killing each other in frustration. We didn’t get out (fail!), but we didn’t kill each other either (success!). I think we came out feeling even more connected with each other than we had going in. We learned how a diverse group of individuals could combine their unique talents to solve puzzles and problems in a completely foreign atmosphere – and have a ton of fun doing it!
In each case, we had a shared objective that we all felt in our guts, it wasn’t a goal coming down from the C-suite, or because someone else told us we needed to meet it. It wasn't an obligation: we developed it ourselves, we felt it, we wanted to meet it because it was ours.
We had a personal connection, working together face-to-face, in unfamiliar situations, on equal ground. Figuring out things together, without a leader and without direction nor instructions. Free to be ourselves and let our individual personalities and talents shine.
Satisfactory results for both? You bet. Ready, willing, and able to tackle what comes up next, together? Absolutely. Successful collaboration on all counts!
Wanna' collaborate? Send me an email. There will be no math involved.