Connect, Create and Collaborate pt 3
In thinking this week about collaboration, connection and creation– in all its forms, this article in Forbes — about how most groups don’t truly collaborate got me thinking about times that I thought I was collaborating – even partnering – with other staff or community partners – but what I was actually doing looked more often just like listening patiently, tolerating, or convincing.
To enter a room of possible collaborators and acknowledge you might not have the best idea yourself – or that you need their help to do work differently and better can be a scary and risky endeavor. Scary because you might not be able to do it “your way” and risky because you have to give up more control than you might be comfortable with—and that this could change your outcome. Living in this place is a hard balance and I work on it almost every day because if it’s an idea with mutual investment – something a group came up with — you have that many more people invested in its success and sustainability over the long term.
In my library right now we have three new strategic change focus areas – students, seniors and readers. These are groups that we’ve always served and will continue to do so – but we’re identifying them as “change priorities,” meaning that we want to look for new, different ways of thinking about how to serve these groups throughout our library– ways that engage all our staff about things that they can each do in their work. In order to enter into this work in partnership with my colleagues, I had to back up and acknowledge I wasn’t the only expert in the room – that everyone around me had new and different ideas that I hadn’t heard before.
Like many of us, I’ve been following the news of elimination of telecommuting at major companies like Yahoo and Best Buy . In both cases the desire for increased collaboration, among others, were cited as reasons for these changes – it made me wonder what other strategies these companies – and others – were using to embed or reinforce a culture of collaboration – which is way harder than just sharing a cubicle.
What can libraries learn from other organizations about what a real culture of collaboration could look like? If we could figure it out among staff, it would probably be easier to teach it to young people.