Collaboration to the EXTREME

You’ve heard of extreme skydiving and extreme skateboarding. Is there such a thing as extreme collaboration? Oh, yes—and it is extraordinary. We speak from experience. Over the past 25 years, the two of us have spent a lot of time exploring our differences. We have thought through not just the obvious distinctions of gender and race, but also differences in background, experience, and point of view. From all this work springs a flow. We play off each other’s ideas, most of the time we anticipate each other’s moves. This flow is both electric and infectious: it raises the energy in the room and creates space for everyone there to grow, change, and expand their boundaries.

The result is always more—far more—than either of us could accomplish alone.

This is where Inclusion as the HOWSM can take organizations to entirely new levels of performance.

When leaders shift their mindsets to including the right people at the right time in the right decisions, welcoming input from more people at more levels, inviting differences in perspective; it enables people to engage more thoroughly than before. When people feel known, respected, and valued for who they are they extend that same respect and value to others throughout the organization. They practice the 12 Inclusive Behaviors as concrete ways to express that respect, and through those interactions, they build higher levels of trust and effectiveness…they start practicing “Extreme collaboration”.

Trust, in turn, builds speed. People no longer spend time wondering whether to share an insight or knowledge with a team member or leader or with the unit across the hall. People want to be, and are, BIG: they want to be their best self, their BIG self, stepping out of behaviors that make them small or hold them back or diminish the potential of their interactions. Knowledge flows more freely and more quickly. People add value, increase performance, and build a commitment to shared success.

They become unstoppable.

Trust also enables a whole new level of collaboration. Partnerships within organizations operate more smoothly as people become more closely aligned with one another’s common goals and ways to achieve shared success around organizational priorities. The success generated by trust encourages groups to take on even bigger challenges—and bigger risks—than they have before. Individuals are given the benefit of the doubt rather than being second-guessed. People who might not have been bold before now do so when interacting by colleagues they trust.

The entire organization starts humming on all cylinders. People play off one another. They contribute at a higher level than they ever thought they could.

You might think longevity of relationship is essential to achieving this extreme collaboration. While longevity may help, the real key is the commitment to invest in the in each other, in the partnership. Such a commitment only happens when people feel free to bring themselves (their differences and experiences) to the table, others value the differences they bring, and everyone trusts the voices behind those differences.

Extreme collaboration can bring extreme results. It makes building trust worth the effort.