Well guess what?  We were out celebrating last night – our excuse was Seb’s birthday! We take birthdays seriously at Cullen Scholefield; it gives us an opportunity to spend time together in a social context and to spoil the birthday boy or girl. Who doesn’t like to feel special?

It is interesting to see that some organisations are beginning to realise that focussing on superstars is not the answer.  What motivates and inspires teams is the bonds that are made and the loyalty to each other that grows and flourishes in a culture of openness and mutual respect.  When you then add a dose of fun, things move on exponentially!   I came across an article by Margaret Heffernan. She suggests that organisations stop using super-chicken model and value all staff equally.

The September issue of Harvard Business Review has an article called Collaborate for Real by Alison Beard.  The same theme is picked up and the article looks at the word ‘collaborate’.

Thinking about this I can see that it is a good modern buzzword that can be used in a variety of contexts:

  • values – that demonstrate the collaborative culture of the organisation
  • organisational design and development – flatter, less hierarchical structures to encourage collaboration
  • recruitment to attract candidates – particularly the millennials I think
  • performance management – more about common objectives that are shared across a team
  • productivity – a real winner here where colleagues help each other rather than adopt a Silo mentality or, perhaps worse, obstruct each other
  • customers – to show that you work with them to develop and grow long-term partnerships

So when I talk about high performing teams, perhaps I mean high performing organisations as there is evidence that focusing on teams alone is not enough. Gillian Tett’s book ‘The Silo Effect’ ends with some lessons drawn from the case studies.

  • keep organizational boundaries flexible and fluid
  • use technology to disrupt them
  • share data and let different interpretations of it be heard
  • tie compensation to collaboration
  • re-imagine corporate taxonomies and experiment with new ones.

These are high-level, top-down recommendations. But she also has a few tips for any manager eager to fight silos from the bottom up:

  • think like an anthropologist—with curiosity, healthy cynicism, and an appreciation for how things relate to one another so that you’re able to recognise when systems no longer make sense
  • consider jumping across a corporate or social divide yourself once in a while.
Collaboration is for everyone in an organisation and those who design organisations must ensure that the structures adopted energise, encourage, engage their people and most of all they must enable their people to have fun!   Fun always releases energy and a certain spark that all organisations who aspire to be innovative need.