I have never enjoyed putting jigsaw puzzles together, but when I have participated in completing one the picture on the box is indispensable. Without it, I find it difficult to know where to start or understand what pieces go in which part of the final product. I can’t imagine being expected to create pieces for a puzzle not knowing what the whole picture is supposed to look like.
That is the dynamic managers can create when they assign work without considering input from employees. Employees are delegated work with the expectation that they can create the parts without understanding or contributing to the design of the whole product. It is no wonder that in the end the pieces of the puzzle, whether a product, project, or service, don’t fit.
At times, collaboration may be perceived as more time consuming than top down direction, but is it really. It may seem faster to tell people what to do, but you have to consider reworks, work arounds, conflicts, and competing ideas in your assessment of the time that the top down approach requires.
There are three reasons that collaboration is faster than top down directing.
1. Seeing and developing the whole picture
In a collaborative process, employees engage in defining the picture. Every resource every team member brings is available to determine the best outcome and the most efficient way to get there. When each person sees the whole picture and contributes to it, most of the problems in the top down approach disappear.
2. Positive interaction develops better working
In the collaborative process, a skilled leader who knows how to use process and human interaction to discover the best solution manages the interactions. This develops quality relationships that engender communication and mutual support. As a result, when a team member is unsure of his or her impact on another they can work together to find a solution before problems escalate.
3. Complementary work
When a team that both developed and created the picture of the whole creates a product, project, or service the pieces tend to fit when the puzzle is put together. The individual work is complementary benefitting the whole.
In a fast pace, high change environment practicing collaboration to achieve a better result faster may appear counterintuitive. It also requires a leader skilled in both process and interaction that results in collaboration. If you are interested in learning more about these skills you should participate in our upcoming, complimentary webinar, Leading Your Team to Collaborate, on Friday, November 16 at 1 PM Central. For more information or to learn more click here.