Creating a Collaborative Culture: 3 phases, 7 steps

kevinOn Tuesday last week, Kevin Roberts Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi London kindly hosted a gathering of prospective stakeholders interested in learning more about and contributing towards the Global Rugby Collaborative (GRC). The GRC aspires to unite people and organizations from around the world who are interested in creating positive social change through rugby with a shared vision to “Together, Create a Better World through Rugby”. You can learn more about the GRC here but this blog is more about the process we’re going through to create this collaborative structure.

While establishing the GRC network I have read a lot about collaboration. Having also been a member of various high performing sports teams for many years it has enabled me to really reflect upon how best to create a successful Culture of Collaboration. The GRC is a real-life case study, early on in its development. So, I have come up with 3 phases including 7 steps (I love #7) towards building this culture – steps I am currently going through myself! I hope they are helpful to you whether personally or professionally, in developing a culture of collaboration and I would be interested to hear your thoughts. What has worked for you? What have been your challenges? How have you maintained a culture of collaboration, having started one?

PHASE 1: CATALYZING THE COMMUNITY -

Step 1: Inspire through a Shared Vision - Why would someone like Kevin Roberts – a world-class CEO, care to contribute his most valuable asset – time – to the GRC? Honestly, I haven’t asked him directly but my guess is he likes the idea that rugby can help change young peoples’ lives. He probably likes it because he appreciates what rugby did for him, what it has done for others he has supported over the years both personally and professionally. I would think also given his role, he appreciates the value and perhaps relishes the challenge of driving forward a creative idea that has the power to be transformational. In short, I’m sure he shares the vision for the GRC and I for one, am very grateful for that! I’m sure the other 30 attendees – all leaders in their respective fields from business, philanthropy, and Sports for Development – share that same vision. So that is the first step – to inspire a group of individuals / organizations to participate as community around a central, shared vision.

Step 2: Embracing Leaders - It’s relatively easy to come up with an idea. It’s much harder to execute on that idea and make it a reality. I’ve learnt this through my professional experience with both successes and failures. One of Saatchi’s core beliefs is that “an idea is not an idea until people participate in it”. So, in order for a newly assembled community to collaborate around an idea, you need them to participate in it. One key way to do this is to ask for the contribution of leaders in the space. So, in the field of Sports 4 Development (social change through sport – and rugby specifically) we were proud to have the CEO of the IRB, the President of RFU, CEO of Beyond Sport, the grant Manager from Laureus Sports for Good Foundation, and the Communications Manager from AIG in attendance, for example, among a number of other world-class leaders in their fields. Embracing leaders and asking for their contribution not only provides a fountain of valuable knowledge for the collaboration but also builds momentum, credibility and collective buy-in to the idea.

Step 3: Identifying Shared Purpose - Now we’ve gotten people to participate, how can we align them to build a strategy towards achieving the vision? Before we start talking about goals and objectives, strategies & tactics, 100 day action plans, etc, we first need to establish the foundation for this action to be built upon. The foundation is establishing a shared purpose. Core to a shared purpose are our shared beliefs and character. What do we believe in, how would we define ourselves? So, for two examples within the GRC community we believe that “Rugby has the power to change young peoples lives for the better”, “Rugby is a uniquely feasible asset to benefit the communities we serve”. Our character would include traits like: Innovative, Brave, Transparent, Supportive, Passionate, Collaborative. So, we need to understand others beliefs and character traits and unite with those who share the same ones. We then finally define the purpose for the collaborative together. This ends phase 1 (which was last week and is currently being documented) and we move on to phase 2 (this week & going-forward…)!

Thinktank

 

PHASE 2: COLLECTIVE CONTRIBUTION –  

Step 4: Team Based Trust - High performing teams are build upon the most effective combination of individual strengths. Everyone brings different strengths to the table and the right combination of these strengths enables team members to respect each other. From respect builds trust. Because others have different strengths to ourselves, we respect their ability to perform a task and to support us in performing our task. In return we support them in achieving theirs. As a team, we all share the same objective. So, to build a collaborative culture, we need to identify individuals’ and organizations’ strengths and create the right positions through which they can make a meaningful contribution to the team. So, for the GRC we have created 5 task forces: Partnership Development, Fund Development, Network Development, Coach Development and Organizational Leadership Development. Underpinning these will be some generic functions across all task forces – comms & marketing, finance, reporting, etc. However, while enabling people to contribute based upon their strengths is important, we also need to understand how they can gain personal or professional benefit for their contribution. Other than believing in the vision and purpose, what drives their participation? For example, would they like: recognition, personal development, networking, sense of purpose, serving others, establishing deeper connections? Understanding the dynamics of individual motivation is as important as enabling individuals to contribute in a meaningful way. This is also arguably not an easy task to get right!

Step 5: Cooperative Game Plan – There are two ways of doing this – bottom up, and top down. I can’t tell you which one works best for the GRC yet as in reality we’ll likely do both simultaneously. Based upon feedback from members and other stakeholders to date, we have a good idea of what we would like to get done to support our members (strategies to achieve specific outcomes). The bigger question is how do we do it, what resources do we need, how can people help? So we will be asking each functional area to come up with a game plan (18 month strategic plan & associated action plans) of what they could do to help contribute towards us achieving certain defined outcomes (based upon our member needs) and likely also defining what other complimentary outcomes they could achieve. We can then compare the proposed functional outcomes horizontally (fit) and vertically (impact) to prioritize and ensure alignment. We will then coordinate resources around the chosen priority outcomes to support each others’ long-term (big hairy audacious) goals as we build step by step in achieving some smaller wins that build momentum and confidence towards us achieving our shared vision.

Step 6: Team First, Self Last - This is where the rubber meets the road. Now, its game time – we have to get the work done and it needs to be about the common goals. This is where egos have to be left at the door and individuals and organizations are committed to and contributing towards the vision they couldn’t otherwise achieve on their own. In order to support this, we first need to establish together the “rules of the game” our “code of conduct” – processes and rituals that reinforce collaborative behavior. If we can all agree upon these rules of the game before kick-off, we can hold each other accountable to the collaborative goals during game time and post-match review!

Step 7: Collective Celebration - Our code of conduct is not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about celebrating success together. So when we achieve things together we need to shout about it and celebrate not only the collective success but also thank each individual for their contribution towards that success. This may be as simple as recognizing the contribution or saying “thank-you”. More deeply, this reinforces why it is really important to understand each individuals’ drivers for participation so when we thank them, we can ask them what they are getting out of it and how we can help them further that individual need. The more we can support members of the community in achieving their personal objectives through contribution towards the collaborative objectives, the more motivated people will be and the more celebrations we’ll be able to have as we go-forward together!

GRC Facilitators

So, lastly as I reflect on this process – I would just like to give a quick shout out and thank-you to Kevin Roberts (top picture) & Saatchi & Saatchi London, our three primary facilitators for the GRC Stakeholder event: Nick Skytland (above left) Adam Armstrong (above, three from left) and Dan Nichols (above right) staff member Mallory Woods (behind the camera), for making our London event so collaborative!

 

7 Components of Camaraderie: One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets

7 Components of Camaraderie – One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets.

As I flew back to New York on Sunday having competed in the World Rugby Classics in Bermuda, I reflected again about some of the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet, play with and compete against. Just over a week ago, the Classic Eagles  – USA’s over 33-year-old alumni national team managed to beat Australia 15-12 in a hard fought match. With only 3 ‘new’ players on the squad this year, we won in large part because of the camaraderie we had developed competing together over the last few years.

Will Greenwood mentioned recently that rugby was a “passport”. Many refer to the rugby community a brother/sister-hood, a fraternity or family. For many of our young participants it is this support network that may become one of the most powerful assets they will own (and one day treasure) from playing rugby. Rugby may become a passport to lifelong opportunity should they choose to travel with it. This global rugby fraternity is something very unique to the game and exists because of camaraderie – a camaraderie that at its core is built upon a culture of respect.

Pre-training huddle

Maori All Blacks & Play Rugby USA students in pre-practice huddle at Pier 5, Brooklyn. Photo: Michael Lee

Rugby people, help rugby people:

If you know anyone in the rugby world, they will tell you, that rugby players have an unbreakable camaraderie between them. The game of rugby, when coached with an emphasis on its unique constituents can genuinely change lives. These unique components are the difference between a team of players who work together on the field and a team of players who still have one another’s back off the field—camaraderie. Because I had experienced this myself from a young age, I decided to retire 35 years early from my banking career to set up Play Rugby USA. I wanted to create an avenue for young people to experience the vast amount of opportunities that rugby offers, young people that otherwise might not have had one. In doing so, I have met some incredible people all over the USA and from around the world. The culture of respect, the doors it can open, the camaraderie that can be developed are really whatever you want to make of them. I’ve been lucky enough to help John Layfield establish a similar program in Bermuda, I’ve traveled to New Zealand for nearly a month, and not paid for one night of accommodation, I’ve been hosted by Premiership Rugby at the finals in Twickenham and by Phil Greening for an international rugby match. I am lucky, yes, but these people have given back to me, because I have given back to rugby. So, giving back is possibly one of the most rewarding things you can do – so pass it on (just not forward)!

Here are my 7 components of Camaraderie:

1) Respect: to work with and for someone, or to support someone towards maximizing jointly shared objectives, respect is vital. Respect is a core value of rugby (and Play Rugby USA) and a key component in any youth development program. Despite what may seem on the surface a pretty brutal collision sport, you will always see rugby players shake hands and even hug after matches and often eat dinner together in the club house. Even within a match, you will see players offer a hand to help up an opposition player after a stoppage in play, or a gentle tap on the back to respect a tackle someone has made on you. You will never see a rugby player overtly celebrate for making a big tackle but you may see teammates congratulate them for doing so. In sports terms we talk to the kids about ROOTS (Positive Coaching Alliance) –  which is Respect for Opposition, Officials, Teammates and Supporters. Respect is integral in developing camaraderie.

2) Trust: From respect and an understanding of peoples’ characteristics, roles and responsibilities, can come trust. Trusting someone – that they have your back, that they will execute their part of a play, that they will keep digging deep in the dying minutes of a close game, that they will remain disciplined under pressure – is an integral component of an effective team, business partnership, or for that matter any relationship. Trust is also necessary to build camaraderie.

3) Reciprocity: Camaraderie is most effectively developed when you get out at least what you put in. This is equally true between two individuals or among a team.

4) Reward: Reward is the excess positive energy that is developed from relationships founded in respect, reciprocity and trust. The reward is the value added, it’s what keeps you coming back. For a relationship it might be friendship, for a team it might be winning, or performing better, for a business partnership it may be profit.

5) Purpose: For a relationship, business partnership or team to be successful they need to have a clearly defined and shared purpose. Having a purpose provides direction, integrity & clarity in how to go-forward together, even when adversity may appear.

6) Caring: Caring for your shared purpose develops a commitment to the relationship, partnership or team that enables camaraderie to develop.

7) Friendship: is one of the biggest opportunities and assets I see resulting from camaraderie but can also be part of camaraderie.  Making new friends through rugby is perhaps the most valuable part of being involved in the game.

 

7 Core Values of “Go-Forward, High Performance Teams”

Last week I was honored to join 30 fantastic facilitators – under the leadership of my friend Lou Bergholz & Edgework Consulting – at the MIT Sloan business school’s annual team-building workshop. Together, we were “Facilitastic”!

As I supported two newly formed teams of 7 students over two days through a series of engaging but challenging team-building activities, it prompted me to reflect upon my experience competing on elite level rugby teams and how I have translated those learnings in business and coaching. Over the two days it was revealing to see that despite my two teams having completely different and extremely diverse skills sets, they still relied on the same core values to be successful. I identified 7 such values throughout the workshop, which I call the 7 C’s.

I have subsequently integrated these 7 core values (7 C’s) into a “Go Forward, High Performance Team Model”. A Go Forward, High Performance Team (GFHP) seeks to learn (from information available), to improve and develop (individually and as a team) and to never give up in achieving their ultimate performance.  There are four foundational components to a GFHP Team:

  1. A Culture Keeper
  2. 7 C’s / Core Values
  3. Balanced Roles
  4. Defined Process

Below, I define briefly the 7 C’s / Core Values that make up a GFHP Team (I will tackle roles and process at a later juncture). At the center of these values is a “Culture Keeper” – a Team Manager, Team Leader, Captain – someone responsible for balancing and operationalizing the team’s values (on and off the field) to develop high performance norms, expectations and processes.

 

Go Forward High Performance Team

 

The 7 C’s (Core Values) of “Go Forward, High Performance Teams”:

  1. Clear Goals & Roles: Vital to a team’s success is a clearly defined and understood goal of what the team needs to achieve and how each team member can contribute to that goal based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses. This is balanced with an understanding of individual team members’ needs and goals to help their personal development, commitment and contribution to the team’s long-term success.
  2. Communication: Specifically open, honest and transparent communication is key to a team’s success. Active listening is a key component of effective communication, as is the raising of red-flags as challenges arise in the team building or task execution process.
  3. Common Purpose: An effective team aligns its individual members, skills and beliefs towards a common purpose as a unit of collaborators. The common purpose will relate in part to the tasks needing to be completed by the team but must also be sensitive to broader environmental factors, such as organizational culture, systems, structures & processes, for example.
  4. Collaboration: Cohesion and cooperation within a team towards their common purpose is what enables a team to achieve more together than the sum of its parts could do individually. Sometimes, the highest performing teams will use collaboration and communication to create a team roadmap based upon the information available to them, when a common purpose or specific goal are not clearly defined.
  5. Commitment: An effective team needs to be committed to achieving its objectives. Commitment includes a “team-first, self-last” attitude but also appreciates the value in diversity that each individual brings to the team. Thus, there needs to be a commitment to support each individual team-member’s development as part of the broader team development process. This leads to increased skills, higher retention and improved performance over a longer term.
  6. Change Management: A successful team recognizes that the world can be ambiguous, complex and change is inevitable. Thus a team should constantly evolve and strive to predict, react & adapt to change. This reduces the materiality of external pressures that may otherwise arise and inhibit team performance at critical moments.
  7. Confidence: In addition to being an outcome from a healthy mix of the aforementioned core values above; confidence can also be developed through individual and team preparation and practice. Confidence – while not referred to as often in team-building literature – I would argue is one factor that can enable a team to out-perform expectations on paper, and deliver the ultimate in high performance performance results in practice.

There are clearly many models and theories available regarding effective teams. This is my own creation of a “Go Forward, High Performance Team” based upon a little research, combined with my personal experience on the field and in the office. More to come but in the meantime, I am interested in your thoughts….