Insightful things people say and do
Curator - @johnt
Covering social business, organisational design, social complexity, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology,
sociology, learning, art, parenting, and other stuff.
Susan Dominus, Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?
A deep piece on the research and personality traits of Adam Grant, Warton Business School professor and the author of the soon-to-be-released Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, in which he argues that a sense of service to others — an almost obsessive focus on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives — may be the single greatest key to productivity, much greater than trying only to help ourselves.
Read the case study that started his career: as a sales lead at an academic fundraising call center, bringing in a student who benefitted from that fundraising, and letting him tell the callers, directly, of how it had changed his life, led to enormous gains in their productivity, gains that could not be explained by other factors, even when the callers themselves were unaware of that motivation, or actively pooh-poohed it.
Service to others
In the end it’s all about us, even when we help others…showing off our talents gives us a serotonin rush„,confirming our status in the group, Therefore create conditions for people to show off what they know…besides the status thing, it’s satisfying applying what you know…it makes you feel it was worth knowing it.
…but who cares right…plus there’s reciprocation.
The thing is that it’s natural anyway…I turn to my friends when I need help and vice versa (that’s just what people do)…this is not collaboration (achieving a shared goal), this is basic relationship (like friendship…you look out for each other, you do stuff for each other…because it feels good)
Much greater than trying only to help ourselves
Stowe himself has said this in the past so insightfully
See, Boyd’s Law
Connected people will naturally gravitate toward an ethic where they will trade personal productivity for connectedness: they will interrupt their own work to help a contact make progress. Ultimately, in a bottom-up fashion, this leads to the network as a whole making more progress than if each individual tries to optimize personal productivity
Perhaps more importantly, the willingness to assist others leads to closer social connections, and increases the likelihood of reciprocal behavior, where an obsession with personal productivity does not.
On a work basis, businesses today want it (or think they want it) both ways. They want their employees to be personally productive, making the classic logical error that if everyone is highly productive personally then the company will be. Nope.
John Tropea 2:32 PM
+dawn ahukanna says “Email has its place as a means of communication but group collaboration and sharing of information is not its core strength.”
Yes this is true, so some might say build email better so it “can” be good for collaboration and sharing. And why would they say this? Cause they live in email for all the other reasons, and they only want to use one tool for communications.
My answer is mixed:
- private messaging in social tools need to be more robust (not just a lightweight feature)
- call the notifications stream “inbox” (be able to make this your default stream eg Socialcast…this implies in a subtle way that social tools are about doing work and responding, rather than reading the latest)
- have a stream called “sent” (your posts and your comments)
- have a stream called “follow” (this is the classic firehose of posts from people/object/groups your follow….of course you could also make “lists” from the firehose)
In traditional team-based collaborative models we experience the “form, storm, norm and perform” process, and it has proved to be very useful in the context of team effectiveness, but perhaps leaves a bit of a void in the area of personal responsibility, or individual motivation to make a meaningful contribution to the team.
SOURCE Sean Grainger
Ok, so this post got me thinking, then blabbing…
Sometimes musicians with the same interests or some sort of attraction discover each other and decide to do a collaboration and release music together, often called a “side project”. (the above is also true in an organisation, with the added point of a shared problem bringing people together)
Both musicians are in bands…when they write material with respective members in their bands this is not typically described as collaboration, it’s more about the band (team) doing work.
So why is the side project interaction called “collaboration”, and the work they do in their primary band not called collaboration?
What makes the side project a “collaboration”?
If collaboration is about all working to a shared outcome…maybe we are always collaborating when working with others, whether it’s people in your team or people you don’t usually work with.
When collaborating, people work together (co-labor) on a single shared goal. Like an orchestra which follows a script everyone has agreed upon and each musician plays their part not for its own sake but to help make something bigger.
But still there’s something different about the “side project”. Maybe we can say it’s got an added aspect, and call it “social collaboration”:
Where people collaborate outside of the contractual obligations? Which means outside of the role structures & job descriptions in the organization? Typical of a matrix organization, no? What do you think? What are your views on ‘social collaboration’ and ‘role power’ in a collaborative enterprise (a bit more complex than a matrix organization)?
What Prem calls “social collaboration, is what most people think of as “collaboration”…it has a lot to do with simply working with others or other teams…and perhaps has a short-term feel to it…what differs is the responsibility/accountability/cohesiveness, as even though the parties involved have shared goals they may also have competing goals.
If two people from different teams have a chat in the coffee room, they may discover they can actually help each other out with things; do something together to fix a common problem they are currently dealing with separately (delivering something that is better than if they did it alone) ie. before they had that chat; or even that their talents together can create some new opportunities the business would surely be interested in.
This is a good thing? Existing teams have a “narrow” vision, they have a specific mandate/boundary/focus, they are silos by nature…they exist to deliver the purpose of the business. So coffee rooms and social software is a way for people/teams in the same company to discover each other and borrow each others talents where they can be used…whether for opportunities or current problems that need to be solved. Silos are how work is done, and awareness across silos help us stay in synch with common problems and new opportunities, and also spreading the talent ownership…so to that effect the collaboration that occurs when silos have bridges is in a way also how work gets done. Without this awareness (which social software is good at nurturing), without this awareness (that leads to collaboration and problem solving) we tend to have more failures. It’s obvious right, the more connected we are, the more chance of noticing a failure before it happens (I’m being very general here, but you know what I mean).
Another example might be that a change the business is making to a process affects several different software products. So all the software product managers have a common goal…this short-term common goal is to make sure their changes don’t affect each others systems in a bad way. So for this particular task the different teams have to communicate and work in unison for it to be successful, and then once they are done, the “collaboration” is over.
Hmmm, maybe this one is cooperation:
When cooperating, people perform together (co-operate) while working on selfish yet common goals. The logic here is “If you help me I’ll help you” and it allows for the spontaneous kind of participation that fuels peer-to-peer systems and distributed networks. If an orchestra is the sound of collaboration, then a drum circle is the sound of cooperation.
Another example could be someone posting a problem on a microblog or forum, and people from all edges of the organsiation swarm around the problem to solve it, then disband. This too can be called “collaboration”, as it’s not the usual people you work with, and the task matter (or problem) is bigger than than the topic domain of your team.
But this last one does have a difference in that there’s one party that has the issue/deliverable/accountability, and the rest of the organisation is helping out because we all sail in the same ship after all. But then again perhaps this one party has discovered something that affects many units, so they all come together to fight a common alien…which means all seats in the ship are in jeopardy if we don’t fix this, so to speak.
How did I get here…not really sure what the the aim of my post is…oh yeah, it’s a silly academic one; what actually is “collaboration”. Even if we do nail it, what it is in practice, or referred to out there may differ.
If there was a chapter two we would get into nurturing collaboration…social/ambient awareness, trust, engagement and belonging, conditions for shared experiences…and look at barriers like what gets measured determines what gets done
I just re-discovered a post that I snipped by Andrew Campbell on the HBR blog, which kind of makes me wish I didn’t start this post…maybe:
Teams are created when managers need to work closely together to achieve a joint outcome. Their actions are interdependent, but they are fully committed to a single result. They need to reach joint decisions about many aspects of their work, and they will be cautious about taking unilateral action without checking with each other to make sure there are no negative side effects. Now, so long as the team has someone with the authority to resolve disputes, ensure coordinated action and remove disruptive or incompetent members, teams work well. Team members may dislike each other. They may disagree about important issues. They may argue disruptively. But with a good leader they can still perform.
Collaborators face a different challenge. They will have some shared goals, but they often also have competing goals. Also, the shared goal is usually only a small part of their responsibilities. Unlike a team, collaborators cannot rely on a leader to resolve differences.
…my advice is to avoid relying on a collaborative relationship except in the rare cases when a company objective is important enough to warrant some collaborative action but not so important as to warrant a dedicated team
Then this great comment by Lander Stoddard, where the term “common authority” when referring to teams is a great differentiator…which set me off on a tangent realising collaboration is not the bread and butter, but maybe it’s the silent hero…it’s the stuff that happens-sometimes unexpected-that crosses boundaries and we deal with (respond/adapt) as it emerges…and also opportunities that we notice by being aware and connected…so yes, it’s that part that makes an adaptive/resilient organisation
Teams: are people/organizations working together, under a common authority, with a shared goal/ to produce a defined product.
Client-Supplier: are working together to find an agreeable arrangement and to keep the exchange satisfactory [meets both parties requirements (what was agreed to)] and can walk away if dissatisfied; requirements not met.
That third one needs a new label for the concept. It may even be two concepts. One, like a team: are people/organizations working together, not under a common authority, usually with different interests. to produce a defined product/agreed upon solution. e.g., land use in a community…a relationship where the parties can’t walk away and are not under a common authority. Her immediately response, with a look and sound of distaste was, “a bind.” I laughed. And today it occurred to me that a starting place for a conversation about a new label would be to call the relationship “bound stakeholders.” They are stakeholders; they have an interest in a common thing. They are bound by something; that interest, resource constraints, a law/reg/policy
In this comment Andrew Campbell succinctly points out the definitional aspects of collaboration:
I have been defining “a collaboration” as a situation where there is no positional leader and where participants cannot walk away and where they have some conflicting objectives. The reason for making this limited definition is to distinguish between a collaboration, a team and a customer-supplier (or mutual self-interest) relationship.
And another important comment by Andrew on the primary definitive aspect of collaboration:
I liked your three types of collaboration and agree that we must improve our vocabulary. Personally, though, I think that it will be more productive to define collaboration types in terms of the nature of the relationships and governance structures rather than the nature of the tasks.
Brain scan images are not what they seem either—or at least not how the media often depict them. They are not photographs of the brain in action in real time. Scientists can’t just look “in” the brain and see what it does. Those beautiful color-dappled images are actually representations of particular areas in the brain that are working the hardest—as measured by increased oxygen consumption—when a subject performs a task such as reading a passage or reacting to stimuli, such as pictures of faces. The powerful computer located within the scanning machine transforms changes in oxygen levels into the familiar candy-colored splotches indicating the brain regions that become especially active during the subject’s performance. Despite well-informed inferences, the greatest challenge of imaging is that it is very difficult for scientists to look at a fiery spot on a brain scan and conclude with certainty what is going on in the mind of the person.
Another much-circulated study, published in 2008, “The Neural Correlates of Hate” came from neuroscientists at University College London. The researchers asked subjects to bring in photos of people they hated—generally ex-lovers, work rivals, or reviled politicians—as well as people about whom subjects felt neutrally. By comparing their responses—that is, patterns of brain activation elicited by the hated face—with their reaction to the neutral photos, the team claimed to identify the neurological correlates of intense hatred. Not surprisingly, much of the media coverage attracted by the study flew under the headline: “‘Hate Circuit’ Found in Brain.”
One of the researchers, Semir Zeki, told the press that brain scans could one day be used in court—for example, to assess whether a murder suspect felt a strong hatred toward the victim. Not so fast. True, these data do reveal that certain parts of the brain become more active when people look at images of people they hate and presumably feel contempt for them as they do so. The problem is that the illuminated areas on the scan are activated by many other emotions, not just hate. There is no newly discovered collection of brain regions that are wired together in such a way that they comprise the identifiable neural counterpart of hatred.
Here’s a spot that lights up when subjects think of God (“Religion center found!”), or researchers find a region for love (“Love found in the brain”). Neuroscientists sometimes refer disparagingly to these studies as “blobology,” their tongue-in-cheek label for studies that show which brain areas become activated as subjects experience X or perform task Y. To repeat: It’s all too easy for the nonexpert to lose sight of the fact that fMRI and other brain-imaging techniques do not literally read thoughts or feelings. By obtaining measures of brain oxygen levels, they show which regions of the brain are more active when a person is thinking, feeling, or, say, reading or calculating. But it is a rather daring leap to go from these patterns to drawing confident inferences about how people feel about political candidates or paying taxes, or what they experience in the throes of love.
The problem with such mindless neuroscience is not neuroscience itself. The field is one of the great intellectual achievements of modern science. Its instruments are remarkable. The goal of brain imaging is enormously important and fascinating: to bridge the explanatory gap between the intangible mind and the corporeal brain. But that relationship is extremely complex and incompletely understood. Therefore, it is vulnerable to being oversold by the media, some overzealous scientists, and neuroentrepreneurs who tout facile conclusions that reach far beyond what the current evidence warrants— fits of “premature extrapolation,” as British neuroskeptic Steven Poole calls them. When it comes to brain scans, seeing may be believing, but it isn’t necessarily understanding.
Without this collaboration with art in the name of the random (or the dynamic), science is doomed to moral sterility, or to a nihilism that asserts that there are no values (this is Alex Rosenberg’s position), or to groundless values such as “the only value, the only morality, is that which enhances biological homeostasis or the survival of the species genome.” In other words, the only value is whatever lends itself to the survival of a scrap of germ plasm. To which one should object, “Well, what’s the good of surviving, then? Must I think of myself as the moral equivalent of a virus?” In this view of things, DNA is merely a sort of parasite that builds its own host.
SOURCE Curtis White (via Dave Pollard)
Science often looks like the only show in town when it comes to considering things like the nature of consciousness and the meaning of human existence, and White is convinced that the demotion of the humanities—of poetic, philosophical, and spiritual approaches to truth—is a demotion of humanity itself. He’s aggravated, in particular, by the mechanistic model of personhood advanced by neuroscience, whereby consciousness is seen as something that can be “mapped,” explained in terms of “wiring” and “connections,” as though the mind were actually (as opposed to just metaphorically) a kind of computer. And so he’s arguing for a return to the spirit of Romanticism, to an intellectual culture that looks to poets and philosophers and artists, rather than scientists, for insight into what used to be called “the human condition.”
Scientism is essentially the belief, the faith, that all problems and questions are potentially soluble by empirical investigation (and that if they’re not, they’re somehow not real questions, not real problems). But there are large areas of human experience for which science has no convincing or compelling means of accounting. I am, I suppose, more or less an atheist, but when I read the Book of Genesis, I find that there is something profoundly true about the picture of human nature in those verses—a picture of our perversity and self-alienation that neuroscience, for instance, has no way of getting at or talking about. Schopenhauer, Freud, and Heidegger all give us comparable forms of truth—truths that aren’t verifiable or measurable in the same way as those of science, but that are no less valuable. The most important truths are often untranslatable into the language of fact.
We try to reverse-engineer willpower and flowchart our way to happiness, but in the end, it is habit that is at the heart of our successes and our failures.
After analyzing taped footage of riots in the area, the major identified a common sequence — first a crowd of Iraqis would gather in the plaza, drawing in spectators and food vendors, then eventually someone would throw a rock and all hell would break loose.
So the major summoned Kufa’s mayor and made a strange request: Get the food vendors out of the plaza. The next time the sequence began to unfold and a crowd started to gather, something different transpired — the crowd snowballed and people started chanting angry slogans, but by dusk, people had gotten hungry and restless. They looked for the familiar kebobs, but they weren’t there. Eventually, the spectators left
SOURCE Maria Popova
Habits in humans determine action, not mission statements, organisational values and outcome focused targets.