Question From the CEO About “Collaborations”
By Admin

April 6, 2011

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In chatting recently with the CEO/ Owner of a local 200-employee manufacturing company, his casual question was: “Collaborations sound good. But who is driving the bus?”

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I hear this from CEO’s, HR VP’s, Founders and Managers: If collaboration is such a core principle of The Great Workplace, and everyone involved has an opportunity for input, who the hell is guiding or driving the damn bus? The steering wheel can only fit in just so many hands. Some ONE individual has to be in charge, and “Collaborations” are groups.

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Collaboration is in fact the ability of a diverse group, with dissimilar points of view to all have valued input at the same level of acceptability and audience. It is where innovation takes place. It is where solutions to sticky problems happen and the ideas that dissolve obstacles come to the surface.

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Collaborations happen with insiders and outsiders. All are participants to the organization’s success. Collaboration is a core value that smart companies see and use: they take advantage of ALL knowledge that can be put to use to promote the organization’s Purpose. Smart people, smart organizations today do NOT build walls around their pathways to success. Collaborations are essentially reaching outside the normal box of information we typically surround ourselves with, and taking advantage of that knowledge. It is the same idea as using the internet on your computer: 90% of the entire body of knowledge is 18-24″ from your nose (your computer monitor). Why would you NOT use it?

No one says that the driver of the bus has to give up the wheel.

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“Driving the bus” is a function of managing and guiding the actual direction of the organization with the assets derived from collaborative efforts, not those efforts themselves. Collaborations are the groups that work on the bus to assure it is going in the right direction.


  1. Susie Sharp

    Bob, too many business and non-profit folks form boards of ‘yes’ people. People need to realize the benefit of incorporating people from multiple viewpoints including… the naysayer – the one I often point to as one of the most valued members of almost any board. The naysayer says what others might only think. How are you going to address multiple viewpoints if you don’t incorporate people from multiple viewpoints?

    As Valdis Krebs said at a 2009 conference I attended, “Change happens at intersections.”



  2. Susie: Yep. You are right on. I have resigned from two Boards in the last year where the “New” ideas were ignored in favor of easy, known and less challenging ones. One was VERY specific to characteristics of The Great Workplace 2.0, where the idea of PURPOSE was summarily rejected (I’m being nice. Slam-dunked is better) for the easy and legacy idea of “Mission Statement”. It is a school. Not very progressive. But, I’m always 3 years ahead of mass-enlightenment anyhow.