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Marco Rogers @polotek
, 14 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Almost every organization says they want to support a collaborative environment. I've developed some specific ideas on what that looks like, an what it doesn't look like. Unpacking what "collaborative" really means takes a while.
For example, collaborative does *not* mean decisions have to made by consensus. True consensus is an illusion anyway. Chasing consensus usually means finding out how to suppress dissenters but calling it "convincing" people.
It is possible to have ultimate decision-makers and still have an environment that feels collaborative to people who don't always agree. Like most things that are worth doing, it's difficult to get right. And people often take easier routes in the interest of "efficiency".
For the record, one of the main reasons consensus can be so difficult is that there is no incentive for people to allow themselves to be convinced. There is hella incentive to be seen as right. Whether it's now or being able to say "I told you so" in the future.
Having owners and decision-makers allows other people to step back. They should feel less responsible for whether things feel 100% right to them. Instead the focus can be on finding ways to influence the decision-makers and make the outcomes better in the process.
If you're a decision-maker in an area, it also behooves you to be collaborative and take advantage of input from your colleagues. If you don't, and things don't go well, it's all on you. But if you're collaborative, people will know that you did your best with available info.
Letting other people examine your decision-making process is a key element of collaborative environments. If it's done well, it can be okay to be imperfect and make mistakes. If not, people might decide you have poor judgment and can't be trusted.
Don't miss how important this is. These dynamics can go a number of different ways regardless of the competency and good intentions of the individuals involved. How we choose to work together has a huge impact on the outcomes. I've seen it over and over again.
Let me put it another way. If you're going to hide your decision-making process and be closed to influence from others, then you better have excellent judgment and never fuck it up. You can't ask for forgiveness later.
On the same note, if you're not the primary decision-maker, you have to be open to things going a different way than you would've chosen. And you have to be careful about creating consequences for people when things aren't perfect. Especially if you're not close to the work.
So why is it important to talk about collaborative work environments? Especially if it's so difficult to get right? For one reason. Because I believe collaborative environments can still produce high quality outcomes while maintaining increased psychological safety.
In my experience, collaborative environments support greater diversity and inclusion better than other environments. More people can be valued for their contributions, make mistakes and recover, learn and grow, without feeling like there's no margin for error.
If you don't create psychological safety for people, they will find ways to make themselves safe. For example, by staying silent when they could've offered valuable input. And decision-makers will take much longer to feel confident moving forward. Because the stakes are too high.
As psychological safety becomes a watchword in our conversations about D&I, I'm watching it be misunderstood. People think it's all about feelings. It is, and we should care about that on it's own. But psychological safety also has a profound impact on your business outcomes.
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