In 2013 my high school level son and his classmates were given a school engineering project to build a chair out of cardboard that could support a minimum weight of 200 lbs. He had to work as a member of a group, help research design options, build three prototypes, and finally build and test a full size design. This was a great practical lesson in engineering for the students.
At the exhibit of the finished chairs, I was able to talk to the students to discuss the successes, failures and challenges they encountered. It became apparent that they encountered extreme stress since the final designs were a lot more difficult to assemble than the prototypes and the full scale designs did not always have the same stability. On-the-fly modifications had to be made during the assembly.
The students were dressed formally to present their designs to parents and others and they were very enthusiastic. They indicated that eventual success came from tasks being shared, individuals volunteering to work on areas that they felt they has expertise on, and there was also a strong sense of communication and collaboration amongst the group members.
That same week my friend Darren Smith, Founder & CEO of Cima Strategic wrote an article on collaboration, a subject that he frequently writes and speak on. With his permission, I have included this article as it not only relates to the success of the students, it also translates very well into the success strategies of highly effective workplaces.
COLLABORATION ARTICLE BY DARREN SMITH, FOUNDER AND CEO OF CIMA STRATEGIC
The Pride Curve – Boosting Value by Shrinking Pride A pride curve? . . . Are you kidding? Who are you to tell me I have a problem controlling my pride…?
Today everybody wants to be collaborative. The problem is our pride is getting in the way. Whether you personally have a pride issue or not, I bet you’ll agree that at least 50% of our project team collaboration challenges stem from uncontrolled pride. We’re not talking about virtuous pride such as national pride, ethnic pride or project team pride. We’re talking about negative pride, or ego. An example would be the ‘ego’ of an electrical subcontractor working on a construction project team.
How does pride impact collaboration? Pride and collaboration have an inverse relationship. Increased pride decreases collaboration. How do you work on pride? You decrease pride by skillfully learning how to use your pride brake and humility gas pedals to drive collaboration higher.
Why is pride a collaboration brake pedal?
• Pride is boring, it pushes people away and hinders collaboration
• Pride isn’t a very safe subject to discuss because most people deny they ever have a pride issue
• A little ego isn’t bad, after all you don’t want to be a doormat, but it’s hard to skillfully use this ego in our interactions with others
Why is humility a collaboration gas pedal?
Humility is the opposite of pride. It creates approachability and truthfulness. It energizes our team because it helps us focus on others. There is a sense of safety created by humility which leads to deeper collaboration on project sticking points, like making timely decisions at the executive committee or Board level, budgeting and scheduling.
The Pride Curve process visual – http://www.cimastrategic.com/images/Documents/IPD/Tools/pride_curve2.pdf
Let’s look at the Pride Curve above. On the top left of the curve is high collaboration/low pride and on the bottom right is high pride/low collaboration. Throughout a project, most teams remain at the bottom right because of their egos.
If your project’s objective is to collaborate deeper and your project’s strategy is to energize your team, then minimizing pride and practicing humility should be a focus. This would result in moving higher on the Pride Curve, from the bottom right to the top left.
You then customize your Pride Curve by inserting points along the curve and labeling them with specific behaviors that will help your team move toward increased collaboration. These labels help you measure your team’s progress.
Questions you can use to label points along the Pride Curve to measure progress:
What type of pride is in use right now on our projects? What is the specific evidence? Is this opinion or fact? What are the long-term implications on our projects?
What type of behavior will help us collaborate deeper? What does that behavior look like?
When the relationships between team members are at a peak; what does that look like?
How do we remove sources of negative pride?
How does inclusion of this Pride Curve in our project team’s ‘rules of engagement’ positively impact collaboration?
What do we know about pride and humility? How do we know what we know?
How do you use this curve for CollaborACTION?
CollaborACTION is HOW to collaborate deeper. CollaborACTION is collaborating more emotionally, intentionally and institutionally in word and deed through the lifecycle of a project. The curve helps you ‘do’ what everyone wants to do on collaborative projects even when there is risk involved – show respect, listen to everyone intently, etc… How? 1. At the beginning of a project, the curve helps set the tone of team dialogue. 2. In the middle of the project, this curve is effective when used in periodic check-ins to validate collaborative behavior. 3. Lastly, as necessary, the curve is valuable when setting expectations of collaborative behavior when onboarding new team members.
Is there a higher collaboration gear your team could shift into? The Pride Curve is an emotional tool that can remove gear-clogging behavior and drive collaboration deeper. No kidding….
Darren Smith is Cima Strategic’s founder & CEO. He helps successful executives in design, construction and healthcare elevate their leadership capability to where it could be and energize their strategy & business development implementation to where it should be. He is to these executives what a carabineer is to the mountain climber; Darren helps them reach higher levels through these collaborative experiences.
Cima Strategic Services Copyright 2013