Crisis Champions Collaborate

You maybe the smartest person on the room, but you are not always right. You have one perspective, one set of experiences and one world view. Regardless of how smart and experienced you are, if you’re human, you’re often wrong, or as we like to say, “not quite right”. When we are surrounded by a team, why wouldn’t we unlock that potential and leverage the collective experience in the room?

Steve Jobs may have had an enormous ego as the head of Apple, but he understood his place in the information age when he famously quipped, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

So how do we collaborate in a way that makes sense when all around us is changing rapidly.

The only difference between collaboration in a crisis and in a normal operating environment, if there is such a thing, is speed.

The cadence of decision making is amplified in a crisis, so too the collaborative cycle. It can also be made more effective by reducing the number of people having input. Whilst you should absolutely maintain diversity and ensure full representation of your organisation at the table, minimizing the numbers makes sense when urgency is required. This is why the idea of a war-cabinet works.

John F. Kennedy had his fair share of crises, as is unfortunately traditional in his family. He said this; “In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.”

It is a time to collaborate but why? You get a better answer because you have a more diverse view and more intelligence and experience to draw from. Plus, you get buy-in! That great and somewhat underestimated commercial multiplier. They build it, they will own it and make sure it happens. That gives you momentum and productivity, two essential ingredients in getting stuff done!

In a crisis this is even more true, as “Crisis forces commonality of purpose on one another.” According to Michelle Dean. It has its own self-evident need; people are primed and ready to act if given an opportunity to engage.

During the early days of the turnaround at Gloria Jeans Coffees I went and met the 400 Franchise Partners around Australia 20 at a time. They were angry and quite rightly so. I took the time to listen, heard the stories and helped them prioritise what they needed. Despite some obvious cynicism I was transparent and came away with a clear insight into their real issues. When we co-created solutions the buy-in was such that sales turned around very quickly. No collaboration produces no buy-in, and no buy-in produces no result.

You don’t have to have all the answers, most of them will be in the team you have already assembled. Be transparent, open up to your team, you can be confident but not directive, include them in the solution. Don’t fall for the temptation to make decisions without collaboration. The irony of that is if you wait, share, ask, discuss and then act, you’ll go faster and get a better outcome.


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