True Collaboration Requires New Business Paradigms


“There’s a very powerful synergy that comes from a well-functioning group. I often use that example from that movie of many years ago of “Apollo 13” when they were stuck up there and they had to get these guys in a room and said, “Here’s what you’ve got. Figure it out.” They had to work together to find a solution.” Kathy Porter

  As we shift from command-and-control to collaborative leadership, let’s, also, change the standards that we operate under. Compare the old to the new business paradigm and consider where you fit today and where you choose to fit tomorrow.

Old Business Paradigm:

•    Quarterly reports

•    Short-term economics on capital projects

•    Incentives paid on one-year performance, getting projects built as planned on time and on budget

•    Corporate cultures that see people and resources only as inputs

•    “Us” verses “them” attitudes

•    I don’t have time to…

•    We are not responsible for…

 New Business Paradigm:

•    See the bigger opportunities and challenges.

•    Recognize the impact on our environment, our communities and our economies long term.

•    We can no longer see ourselves as separate.

•    We can no longer see the impacts of our corporations as separate.

•    Capture the opportunity of sustainability into how we do our business every day. These leaders and corporations will outperform those that don’t. Those that don’t will continue to see communities, the environment, and long-term economic health as challenges.

Your Paradigms:

Are you open to change and changing your behaviors to understand?

•    Why the future matters?

•    What are the qualities of a collaborative leader?

•    What would a leader do?

•    What do you choose?

•    What behavior will you change now?

As that leader, I challenge you to use the 10 Essential Steps to create the collaborative organizational culture that serves you and your dreams.

When the circle creates options and pathways, ensure that the evaluation and decision making is done in ways that honor the present and the future. Look at the ideas, concepts, and projects through the lens of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

At times, a company, a leader, or a president must simply be directive— hard and fast—and hold people accountable. As companies grow, they realize that if they want to attract, retain and build the best people and the best organization, leading through the lens of economic, environmental and social sustainability is one of the best ways to attract and retain people and build the best organization. The best people don’t want to work anywhere other than a place where they can learn, be valued and make a meaningful contribution to their organization. Their organization must align with the individual’s values and purpose.

Engagement, and the accountability that grows out of it, occurs when we ask people to be in charge of their own experience and act on the wellbeing of the whole. Leaders do this by naming a new context and convening people into new conversations through questions that demand personal investment. This is what triggers the choice to be accountable for those things over which we can have power, even though we may have no control. In addition to convening and naming the question, we add listening to the critical role of leadership. Listening may be the single most powerful action the leader can take. Leaders will always be under pressure to speak, but if building social fabric is important, and sustained transformation is the goal, then listening becomes the greater service.

This kind of leadership—convening, naming the question, and listening—is restorative and produces energy rather than consumes it. It is leadership that creates accountability as it confronts people with their freedom. In this way, engagement-centered leaders bring kitchen table and street corner democracy into being.

“The research is pretty compelling to say that the longest-term solutions, the most buy-in, the most commitment come when people come together and collaborate…The point is collaboration means staying open to whatever happens.” Jeanne McPherson, Ph.D, McPherson Workforce Development, Kennewick, Washington

Bonus: When you are ready to launch your organization to new paradigms and success thresholds, take our;

Collaborative Leadership and Team Development 360 Assessment

Acknowledgments: Thank you to the over 100 leaders from eight nations who added their wisdom, see list above, to;

Break Through To Yes

And special thanks to;

Rotary International, Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary and to all volunteers in the world, whatever your group and work, that put service above self and make our world better.

Donna Hastings, Rod McKay, Art Korpach, Michael Hill and all the incredible people I work with for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Donna Hastings for seeing the EGOS to be shadowed on my book cover. EGO is the shadow that blocks the light of collaboration.

Al Skucas, Neil Shuttleworth, TrailsBC, TransCanada Trail and groups across the world for creating non-motorized trails and sustainable tourism.

To the men and women in the Canadian petroleum industry and the renewable energy industry who do great work through collaboration to provide low price, organic, gluten-free energy to consumers across North America.

To Bruce McIntyre, Don Simmons, Harley Hotchkiss, Joan Goldsmith, Graham Woolgar, Linda Matthie, Pat Forest, Wieland Wettstein, Ken Cloke, Colin Campbell, Steve Speer, Donna Hastings, Patricia Morgan, Dale Fisher, Noel Rea, Jim MacLean, Sue Riddell Rose, Rob Peters, Peter Dolezal, Irene Herremans, Iris English, Jimmy Pattison, Margaret Wheatley, Gerry Wilkie, Ron and Monelle Fraser, Judge John Reilly, Karen Dowling, Denise Chartrand, Jeff Cohen, my father Gordon Savage and so many others who have shown me that leadership based on integrity, respect, dedication, inclusion, and vision is true leadership in business.

To all my failures, for teaching me.

David B. Savage

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David B Savage

David B Savage