Orchestrate for Impact

Blog 2023-09-19 photo

Collaboration is necessary in today’s work world, and often highlighted as an organizational value. People may be motivated to cooperate (the subject of our September 5th blog) and engaged in communicating actively (discussed in our September 12th blog); however the work isn’t always coordinated in a way that leads to success. 

Coordination is needed most when work is being performed separately to achieve something together. This is where one of my favorite thought leaders, Fernando Flores, can help. (Can you hear the drums, Fernando? Thanks, ABBA, for this song melody now lingering in my head.) 

Flores developed a body of work known as Conversations for Action. It is a “basic action workflow” that, when followed, increases commitment in working relationships and the chance of achieving desired outcomes. 

Typical work interactions might go like this: I ask you for something, you then do it and let me know when you’re done. However, what we originally ask for isn’t always what gets delivered or there’s been a misinterpretation of the ask. 

To ensure successful collaborative efforts, Flores’ framework emphasizes coordinating on a few fundamental factors before any work is performed. While these can be affiliated with a request from one person to another, I share them in context of a team or group of individuals who are collaborating: 

  • Context: People collaborating on an effort must align on the context of the effort to put it into action. Context allows for greater freedom and latitude in performing the work to support empowerment and ensure the desired outcome.
  • Negotiations: Before agreeing to act, it’s important for the team to consider alternatives (versus simply saying “yes” to one idea). Perhaps there are different ways the work could be performed. Or maybe there’s an alternative solution to the original ask, and one that makes sense to the people collaborating. Or it may make sense to suggest a timeline delay to not contradict other time-sensitive work, for example. And declining requested work—when followed up with valid justification (e.g., when the work would jeopardize other important work efforts) and when agreed to—is also a potential response in work negotiations. 
  • Conditions of satisfaction: Once work is agreed to, team members outline conditions required for successful performance (e.g., by when, in what format, using what resources, etc.) or others can ask about the particulars of the work so that there’s no misinterpretation or issues upon work completion. 

Whether you are a manager coordinating work with employees, a team member collaborating with others, or partners running a business, better coordination can increase collaboration success. 

This Week: When collaborating, give or get context, negotiate where it makes sense, and understand conditions of satisfaction. 

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