In his landmark book, "Good to Great", Jim Collins highlights a very important thought. Great Organizations that have achieved great transformations and delivered great performances, did not do so by doing highly specialised and complex things in terms of strategy and planning. Instead, they achieved what they did by following and implementing simple, timeless, and fundamental principles of collective human behaviour.
My work with thousands of corporate professionals across a wide spectrum of industry, culture, and hierarchy has deeply reinforced this thinking. If we work at the core of primal human behaviour, at the level of instinct, and create an environment where this instinct is not blocked, all the techniques and attitudes that we seek become instantly and abundantly available. Without working at this core, no amount of work on the periphery will deliver the desired results.
For instance, many organizations invest a great deal of time and money in developing, sourcing, and delivering training programmes for their people in areas like Integration, Communication, Collaboration, Delegation, Trust Building, Creativity, Innovation, Time Management, Conflict Management, Resourcefulness, Managing Stress, etc. While all these are certainly critical elements essential to delivering excellence, they cannot be defined or taught in isolation for the simple reason that these are all interconnected, interdependent, behavioural ingredients.
Let us look at them one by one: (The nature and definition of these dynamics and how they are experienced through "CorporateTheatre" have been dealt with individually in separate posts in this blog)
Many stakeholders of workplace culture believe that to integrate a team and create bonding, people need to spend a great deal of time together. Consequently, they invest in various fun and adventure-based interventions. As John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith repeatedly stress in their brilliant book, 'The Wisdom of Teams', high performance teams can be made up even of people who may not know each other too well, or like each other too much. What is needed is clarity of a common goal and commitment to a collective success. When these two ingredients are available, they can work together closely and effectively.
"CorporateTheatre" defines collaboration as 'investing in the other person's good performance, as much as in one's own good performance'. This cannot be done by making people 'selfless' or ennobling them, or making them egoless. While these may be noble ideals in an 'ashram' or 'monastery' setting, they are certainly not practical in most corporate environments. What makes collaboration instantly and instinctively available in typical work environments is the awareness that we share a common goal, and the trust that we are working towards a collective success, and the awareness that if anyone else in my team does not perform well, I will also lose. As we experience during the course of the workshop, don't try to make people 'drop' egos. Instead, align egos to a shared success through appropriate goal definitions, individual and functional role definitions, and appraisal and reward systems that do not pit individuals against each other within the same team.
(How the 'natural team' environment raises individuals beyond their comfort zones and perceived competence zones without creating internal competition has been explained several times elsewhere in this blog.)
Irrespective of our understanding of each other's competence, delegation happens only when we have complete trust in each other's clarity and commitment to the same goal and success.
One among the key insights experienced through the "CorporateTheatre" workshop is that communication is not only about people's facility with language, voice, vocabulary, multi-media, or gadgets. It has more to do with attitude - on the part of the giver of communication as well as the receiver. Both are 'communicators' in the the process of communication, and unless both invest their commitment, creativity, clarity, and TRUST in each other's commitment to the same goal and success, communication does not happen.
Creativity & Innovation:
A group of very creative people can come together without it resulting in innovation. "CorporateTheatre" understands creativity not as being different or thinking 'out of the box'. Both these attitudes of trying to be different or thinking out of the box, involve reaction rather than response. Creativity as experienced through "CorporateTheatre" is a free, committed, response to the need of the moment, with clear understanding of the goal and commitment to its achievement. Under such conditions individual creativity expressed in freedom, without self-consciousness and possessiveness leads to innovation. This expression is enabled by effective communication arising from trust in each others clarity and commitment to a common goal and collective success.
Faced with a new challenge, people involved come up with several ideas. Very often these ideas may be contradictory. The more the variety of ideas, the richer are the options available. To get the best options, people must be willing to share their ideas without self-consciousness, without the fear of rejection or ridicule, and most importantly, without possessiveness. If each one is possessive about their idea, contradiction inevitably leads to conflict. And conflict leads to wastage of time and the need to explore 'mutually acceptable' compromise solutions that often dilute standards of excellence. Once again, this free and non-possessive sharing of ideas does not come from techniques of communication, or skills, but from an attitude of complete trust in each others clarity of, and commitment to, the same goal and the same collective success.
Pressure without Stress:
Pressure is not stress. In fact, a good team is always looking for the excitement of a tougher challenge - the higher the mountain, the greater the celebration. One of the main factors that converts pressure into stress is self-consciousness. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, if we are completely available to the process, there is enjoyment. Be it a movie, or a song, or climbing a mountain, the more available we are to what is happening, the more we enjoy it. If you are in the mountains and want to be at home you are not enjoying it. If sitting inside the movie hall, I am thinking of what i intend to do after the movie, or for that matter, what I did before, I am not enjoying the movie. Self-consciousness takes away focus from the moment or activity at hand, to our own sense of self-appraisal, or self-audit, based on our perception of how we are being assessed by others. Ironically, most of the time, this perception of what others expect from us, or how others are judging us, is wrong, coloured as it is by our own egoic filters. Competition WITHIN the team inevitably creates acute self-consciousness. Energy is blocked, spontaneity and creative responsiveness is blocked, communication is distorted, collaboration becomes impossible, and the smallest of pressures lead to stress.
Doing away with internal competition does not in any way reduce the impetus to explore higher standards of individual and team performance, and has all the scope for recognising and richly rewarding individual brilliance and contribution, as has been explained several times in this blog.
Workshop after workshop has reinforced the fact that the challenge of leadership is not to change people. Instead it is to enable the environment that converts groups of people into 'natural teams'. Natural teams are programmed to win, simply because they are not comfortable being second, irrespective of the rewards. "CorporateTheatre" experientially defines the 3 basic pillars that create this environment, and how to create them. This has been described several times in this blog. Managers, who need the reassurance of complexity and jargon to believe in their own competence may find these too simple to merit consideration. Nevertheless as stated in Jim Collins' book, "Good to Great",
“But what I find so striking is their incredible simplicity. . . . .These were simple, simple, simple ideas."