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Team collaborating in a meeting

3 Ways to Show Up to Collaborate

By Josh Miller

5by5 CPO Josh Miller

In general, I’m not a fan of five-syllable words. Like genuinely don’t like ‘em. Maybe I had a bad experience with a thesaurus. Maybe I’m just not well read. But nothing fills up a room like a bunch of five-syllable nonsense.

However, there is one that stands out in a sea of conference room bingo. My desert island five syllable word is collaboration. Sure, it’s been watered down with misuse and grandstanding, but it’s not to be blamed. Because when it really shows up it’s fantastic.

When we talk about collaboration at 5by5 we model it after Les Mckeown’s HQTBDM (High-Quality Team-Based Decision-Making) from his Do Scale book. Les does a great job of explaining the how to making and executing effective group decisions. But there is another piece to collaboration that Les doesn’t really get into — your mindset when you walk into the room. How do we show up prepared for effective collaboration? It comes down to three things.


Humility

Are you willing to learn as we solve the problem? If not, this isn’t collaboration it’s persuasion. Persuasion is more about winning than finding the best solution. This also isn’t false humility. This is a right understanding and representation of our knowledge. In the best version of collaboration everyone has to enter the group aware of what they don’t know. We should be comfortable with the lack of knowledge we have because the knowledge exists in the group.


Expertise

What do you bring to the group that is uniquely useful to solving the problem? This is about the role you play in the group. It may not always be your best skillset, but it is the skillset that doesn’t exist in the other people in the group. It’s not about what you know as much as how what you know helps solve the problem.


Leadership

Who has the power to say we’ve done the thing we came to do? In any good collaboration there will be multiple solutions. Some good. Some bad. Some absolutely ridiculous. Someone has to step up and recognize the solution when it shows up. Otherwise we risk not making it to the solution or running right past it. Don’t be afraid to say “That’s it!”

No matter the room or the problem or the people if you walk into a collaborative setting humble, confident in your knowledge and willing to lead you will get to the other side with a better understanding and a better solution. And that’s what collaboration should be all about.

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