Collaboration and a Business Coach


Lynn was seriously groused with Mike. They were doing so well, having a fine time, until he jumped off of his end of the teeter totter. ‘Ka-boom’, she crashed into the terra-firma like a ragdoll. Seriously groused for sure. Maureen nodded knowingly in response to Lynn’s metaphor. “Yeah, that  sucks and probably hurts in a lot of ways”. “Why can’t people just be more reliable?”

“Yes!” Lynn’s arms were up, hands open in begging the gods to give a gal a break. “I just want some basics, like people who do what they say they will. The teeter totter won’t do much with just one person. Business needs things to get done, actions and results people, please. Sure much can be accomplished solo, but when people get together around an agreed objective, ‘big yes’ happens. Big things become possible.” She paused, feeling good having channeled her angst into that mini rant. A freshening silence arrived as she lowered her arms with a noisy exhale. She thought Rick Mercer would have been proud.

Lynn, to no one in particular, “why does this happen?” The parallels of playground dynamics to the way things seem to work inside of Acme Corp unveiled a smile to Maureen. Her role as Business Coach in residence brought many people challenges to her attention. That of increasing Collaboration among Acme employees was a rather common point of attention. Yes, collaboration, the effective kind, had many parallels to the effective use of a teeter totter. Her smile widened. She thought about how Collaboration was the oil that made things work well, almost all things that involved more than one person. So, almost all things. The main ingredient of that oil is trust.

Another Covey, son. of the 7 Habits guru, wrote a book, The Speed of Trust. More recently, Natalie Oldfield wrote The Power of Trust. Both books and many more, lay it out, but what might be a Coaching entry point to help folks play nice on those teeter totters? Probably not as engaging as a suspense thriller, but for Maureen, this question intrigued her. Finding an opening question was like a quest for the answer to a Holmes mystery. She framed the ask of herself as if about to pose the question to Lynn.

“Hi Maureen.”  “Oh, hi Mike.” The post surprise pause, and, “would you be willing to help me for a minute?” “Sure Maureen, what’s up?” “I am trying to figure out what kinds of things get in the way of full out Collaboration, here at work. What comes to mind?” Mike stopped, eyes opening a bit more, cleared his throat and after a few seconds responded with, “Isn’t it like cooperation, helping, uhm not about being a silo, stuff like that?” “I think it is like all of that, but what could I ask people to think about to get them to actually be more Collaborative?” Mike slowly shook his head, scrunched up his mouth and finally offered, “something about what would it take?” and then left the room. Oh yeah ‘the teeter totter jumper’ smiled Maureen. And, maybe Mike was onto something.

What if, (a great Coaching question entry btw) what if you held the key to opening greater Collaboration here at Acme? What would you do to help open more Collaboration here at Acme?

Hmm? Yes, that could plant the seed of invitation to contribute to greater Collaboration. Maureen smiled, feeling like she was riding off into the sunset at the end of a movie.

Joseph Seiler MCC