By definition, collaboration is working effectively with others to accomplish goals and to identify and resolve problems. It seems like a simple idea—engage interpersonally to achieve a goal. Our brains are inherently wired to connect with other humans, so this should be easy right?
Well, it’s obviously not that simple. In addition to the myriad complexities that come with every single work day, we’ve also got other pesky biological triggers—survival of the fittest—driving our brains and influencing the way we work.
Howard Rheingold offers a pretty interesting look in this Ted Talk about the phenomenon of how collaboration can be more be powerful than that innately competitive drive that reaches back to the dawn of civilization. The datascience blog by Berkeley summarizes this idea well, saying, “Collaboration, not competition, is an approach rooted in humanity’s natural instinct to work in a group.”
There are a few factors that he outlines that make a huge difference in the way business should get done:
- Complex Interdependency
- Collective action
These three concepts illustrate the new business environment perfectly—there is the reality of interdependency, the necessity for cooperation, and the drive for collective action.
But, I’d add another layer—the way we’re each wired. Collaboration can and should go beyond simply working together. The potential is even stronger once you harness the power of cognitive diversity and add that to the mix.
Collective action can’t be performed at the highest level without an appreciation and utilization of diverse people and perspectives. It is a highly evolved way of relating, and it’s in direct conflict with the every-man-for-himself ethos. It also takes the randomness out of the equation. No longer is your workforce simply working with the people they’re around…instead, it’s a proactive focus on seeking out differences to create exponential boosts in creativity, productivity, and overall performance.
It’s a new way to think about how to relate, collaborate, and generate (action, that is).
In our Emergenetics terminology, it’s about Power of WE (Whole Emergenetics), which means a true understanding of the diverse ways that people go about solving problems and generating solutions.
WE encompasses the complex interdependency by providing a lens to understand the strengths, touch points, and perspectives of everyone in an organization. Then we take understanding and the interdependent nature of work to the next level of cooperation. Bringing people together requires a commitment to honoring diverse cognitive approaches.
The Power of WE brings action to the forefront. After all, cooperation without action is simply people talking. This directly relates to both the importance of people and the ability to set a distinct approach. A WEapproach takes the cognitive diversity present in a team and puts it into any situation.
Cognitive diversity now reaches people on a cooperative relationship level as well as a task and achievement level. That’s the true Power of WE and the next step of generating collective action.