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…)!

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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!

 

Can you coach Resilience? Here’s 7 ways to try…

There are so many tragedies around the world and it is inevitable that each and every one of us has either already experienced some kind of material set-back or knows someone who has. It is also inevitable that we will experience various set-backs throughout our life time, whether at home, at work, or in the community.

Some people, organizations and communities ‘bounce back’ quickly, others don’t. Why is that? Resilience is the ability to recover, become strong or successful again after something bad has happened. At the individual level there are some biological factors at play with regard to how our brains work that somewhat influence that process, but I’m afraid they’re above my pay grade. Given businesses and communities are networks of people, what I want to explore is how we can help develop or coach resilience through a process of encouraging and practicing healthy habits. Whether we are self-coaching, life-coaching, parenting, leading a team at work, or mentoring others, I believe these habits can be applied. The younger they are learned, the better. I have outlined 7 steps to develop resilience. Let me know what you think and please share any additional recommendations you have learned from your own coaching / experience?

Some of the young people we work with at Play Rugby USA it seems have experienced enough set-backs already for life. Some of them have had to grow up quickly as a result. It is truly inspirational to see how so many of them continue to go-forward and support each other in achieving success. We are proud to be able to provide them with some passionate Youth Development Mentors who they can trust to help them along the way. So this brings me to the first of my 7 steps to learning resilience:

1) Go-Forward mindset: Yes, this is easier said than done but we remind our students regularly to “Go Forward”. As I have stated in previous blogs, Go Forward in rugby means to advance the ball forward to maintain possession (control), challenge and ultimately penetrate the defense (adversity). Off the field this means to learn, improve, experience personal growth and to never give up. A Go Forward mindset therefore requires learning from the past but always looking to the future knowing we may not always be able to control every outcome, but so long as we are going forward (making progress) to never give up. A Go-Forward mindset isn’t enough on its own to be learn resilience, but it’s a solid start. Just saying to yourself regularly “Go-Forward” is a gentle reminder to keep focus on what’s next, not what has gone before.

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2) Understand that change is constant and set-backs are an inevitable part of change: We have likely all been told at some point in our childhood “life isn’t fair”, and we have it drummed into us that “the only constant is change”. But, how do we prepare for change? When coaching / mentoring we can communicate that goals & benchmarks can change, expectations can be adjusted and that there is always something can can be learnt from every outcome, whether it was desired or not. We can encourage people to “play what we see” and make the best decisions they can on the fly taking into account those around them. We can communicate that sometimes bad things may happen, and we appreciate that bad things suck. But because we know that, we shouldn’t be surprised; we can handle them. Also, we need to appreciate point #3:

3) Step back to broaden your perspective: Picture your issue / set back. It may be all consuming. Then take one massive step back in your head. What else is there in your life? What is going well, what and who do you love, who do you know, who has been through this before, who can help? I’m not exactly a philosophy expert but Budda did say: “Our life is shaped by our mind. We become what we think. Suffering follows an evil [replace with "negative"] thought as the wheels of the cart follow the oxen that draws it”. Thinking broadly, thinking positively helps dilute the concentration of adversity.

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4) You can’t change the weather: (Although you can move to improve it!). We can only control what we can control. So, we have to make the most of the things within our sphere of self-influence. Also, if there are too many external factors negatively influencing our sphere of self-influence, how can we control (i.e. get rid of / minimize) some of them? For the things within our control, imagining our ultimate outcome (vision) for each, helps set our course. For example, if you’re a personal trainer working with someone looking to loose weight (it is New Year after all) how do they want to look and feel in 12 months time? Then, we help them set small goals in bite sized pieces, to help them move them forward. Then:

5) Self-Leadership: This is a broad and much documented topic but there are some basics we can employ that help us maximize point #4 above. Once we have set our ‘ultimate’ or  longer-term direction for a particular factor we can control and we’re motivated to get there,  imagining what that could look like (motivation), we can now employ 3 R’s: a) Reward ourselves for our achievements, and b) Reflect upon our outcomes (whether good or bad); and c) practice self-Respect. That is – put your positive hat on! If we respect ourselves, we can look positively at each step we take towards the vision we have for ourselves and be honest about whether we’re still going-forward. And if we’re struggling, we can always remember the old English proverb: “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

6) Balance routine with enrichment: Personally, I’ve always been one to “keep busy” to keep my mind and body active & challenged and in some respects this has helped me go-forward after some set-backs. Routine for me traditionally has been work (running a small portfolio of sports-themed social enterprises) and training (gym, running, biking, rugby practice). However, having a routine it is not enough and at times can be a cause of stress and anxiety by taking on too much and loosing control of too many outcomes. So, just as important  or helpful as a routine may be, it’s equally important to have fun. Take a break, play a game, go out with friends, watch a movie, write a blog..haha, etc.

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Lastly, and absolutely not least:

7) You do not have to be alone: One of the themes that comes out most prominently from many of the students we work with is that since they have started playing rugby they realize they have a new “family”, “teammates” and “support”. They “look for help” want to become “role models” and feel a “connection” to and “respect” for each other. They make each other want to be a “better player / person” and they “learn” from each other along the way. They have chosen to participate in a game that has provided them with a new network of friends and supporters. So, to develop resilience, you need to ensure that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ALONE. Being resilient however isn’t just about asking others for help. Resilient people exhibit the following behaviors: a) make connections with other people; b) help other people and c) ask for help, when they need it.

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

 

I’m interested to hear your thoughts? Can resilience be coached / developed? What are the challenges? What has worked for you?