How Is Our Collaborative Fitness?

I heard an interview on our national radio this morning where a university chancellor was expressing his frustration with the behaviour of the local council. The media bite said the university “was accusing the city council of ignoring its contribution and potential.”

The interview was peppered with terms like coordination, cooperation and collaboration being used interchangeably. The chancellor quoted Sir Peter Blake in an effort to describe how he would like the situation to be. Sir Peter had said of his 2005 sailing crew that they went from being “a team of champions to a champion team.”

This is a wonderful quote that describes the transformation that can happen in a collaborative journey. It is that sweet space where trust, relationships and a shared accountability have been built to a level so that results are experienced.

People have been thinking and behaving differently and are getting feedback that a collaborative way of operating really can deliver.

It is also a quote about a sports situation where people readily consider concepts such as fitness. In this blog I suggest that the idea of fitness can usefully be applied to collaborative practice. Wikipedia defines ‘fitness’ as “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.”

I pose the idea that collaborative fitness is the combination of mindset and practice that best addresses complexity. To assess collaborative fitness it is important to first ascertain that the situation you are working with is indeed complex. At Twyfords the Cynefin model guides us in this assessment.

Once you have identified that complexity is present then it is crucial to build a common understanding of useful mindsets for collaboration. My colleague Stuart talks about the mindsets that can be identified in a collaborative journey in his blogs  and  He identifies several levels of mindset that develop over time and rigorous practice of collaboration.

The only way to learn these mindsets is by practice. Our experience with many sectors shows that some folk find a collaborative mindset comes naturally and others need to consciously apply appreciative thinking. All people (including us at Twyfords) need to practice and build up our collaborative fitness.

An aid to our collaborative fitness regime is found with the ADEPT principles  These are five principles that remind us about the mindsets and behaviours we aspire to when collaborating. Our clients find these principles to be a useful checklist for their individual behaviour as well as a focal point for a team of collaborators.

Like taking on a sports event, you want to be sure that all team members know the fitness level that is necessary for success. When participants in a collaborative process have a high collaborative fitness, desirable results are likely to be generated. Low collaborative fitness on the other hand is likely to generate frustration and slow progress.

It makes sense therefore to build up the collaborative fitness of all people involved. Twyfords are available to assist you in your collaborative fitness efforts. Just give us a call or email and in the meantime keep up that fitness training.

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