In August Lab described the value of fresh eyes and ideas in a business. In conclusion he said new people bring new ideas and perspectives from their life lessons and what they have learned in previous workplaces. What I am learning fast is how transferable our skills are between professions.
Collaboration has become a buzz word of late, travelling across the globe at lightning speed in schools and businesses. It isn’t a new concept, it is one that has been around as long as man has inhabited the earth. It does however call for being aware of one’s skills and strengths and being open to sharing these in a collaborative, not competitive manner. Sounds great in theory, however to achieve this we may have to change or modify some of our individual values and beliefs. If each of us could leverage off our own personal strength for the common good of the organisation to develop aligned action, we would be an unstoppable force. This is the key to creating change environments and why sustainable change takes so long.
The Dreyfus brothers research helps us understand the concept of skill acquisition. As a novice we need rule governed behaviour, however as we learn our skill in a number of settings we gain deeper knowledge and understanding that allows us to operate at a more complex level. As we grow and learn together this not only builds Personal Practical Knowledge (PPK), but also organisational PPK – the richest resource of all. This collective PPK is the gold that builds sustainability in organisations. Collaboration ensures the ‘gold’ does not leave when one person moves on.
I came into Bats from establishing a large organisation over fourteen years. We built people’s job descriptions around their strengths. It took many years to get the synergy just right. We made many mistakes along the way, however instead of seeing them as errors, we saw them as learning. I am experiencing how much this transfers to any organisation, regardless of context. I am starting to value the skills and PPK that my life and many situations has taught me. In Bats we strongly believe we engage with any organisation to listen and learn, then create learning experiences that mine their PPK like gold. The people within that organisation know the context well. In fact, way better than we do. This way a mutual learning environment is created which benefits all parties.
Cognitive psychologists Steven Sloman and Phillip Fernbach make a strong point, “Because we think communally, we tend to operate in teams. This means that the contributions we make as individuals depend more on our ability to work with others than on our individual mental horsepower. Individual intelligence is overrated. It also means that we learn best when we’re thinking with others.” 1
How focused are you on the aspects that make up your real work? How aware are you and your colleagues of the aspects that make up each other’s real work? Do you devote regular and deliberate time to collaborate and share? Or are you too busy? As a consequence, what are you all missing out on? How much duplication is happening? True collaboration and leveraging off strength creates high levels of job satisfaction, high quality delivery, superior outcomes, efficiency and sustainability. Why wouldn’t you do it?
So, as I hope you can see I am drawing from what I have learned to inform our collective future in Bats. New contexts, new people, new settings. It is all about sharing our PPK and learning. Such an exciting adventure.
- Steven Sloman & Phillip Fernbach (2017). The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom.
Mary and Lab Wilson (the Bats Team)