Collaboration AND ITS POWER TO SUPPORT THE PROCESS OF INNOVATION
A DESIGN THESIS LEIGH COHEN INDUSTRIAL_INTERACTION DESIGN SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ID2010
Collaboration: AND ITS POWER TO SUPPORT THE PROCESS OF INNOVATION
This thesis is respectfully submitted by Leigh Cohen to the faculty of Syracuse University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Industrial Design (BID). ________________________________ Leigh Cohen ________________________________ Cas Holman
INTRODUCTION: 9_What is collaboration? 10_Why do we find it hard to collaborate? 22_Where does our fear lead us? 24_Break free from our fears and open our minds FORMULA: 28_Formulating a recipe for collaborative success PEOPLE: 35_The right people, the right attitude 36_“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” 38_Make sure you have some glue 47_Why power hungry people are not friends of collaboration PROCESS: 52_It’s more than just teamwork 54_Follow the yellow brick road to innovation 60_Why designers have a head start 64_Learn to think like a designer TOOLS: 70_The power of the Post-it 72_The fight for team rooms and their untapped potential CONCLUSION: 78_The bigger picture of collaboration 82_References 84_Photo References
WHAT IS COLLABORATION?
Collaboration is a means to bring people together to solve complex problems and find innovative solutions. It is the process by which we look to real world situations and human centered design strategies, to find “out of the box” ideas that will exceed the needs of the problems that we face. Most importantly, it is about communicating effectively, knowing how to work together to play upon people’s strengths, and build upon each other’s ideas. It is not about attacking ideas and labeling them as wrong. It is about opening our minds and seeing the potential for a solution. To collaborate effectively, one should have fun, be fearless, and not be afraid to ask for help.
WHY DO WE FIND IT HARD TO COLLABORATE?
Growing up I was taught three things that I believe hinder a person’s ability to collaborate and innovate. First, others taught me that creativity and imagination were gifts that not all of us possess. Fortunately for me, my parents taught me quite the opposite. From an early age they told me that I could achieve my dreams, and that they would be there along the way to support me in my efforts. Not everyone is taught this same lesson or given that opportunity. How often have I heard people say, “Oh, you’re so creative. I would have never been able to think of that… You have a gift.” But what people forget is, as small children we do not know any better; we all have that same “gift.” It is the gift of creativity and unstoppable imagination. For many, it is lost when we enter school and start caring about what other’s think about us. We become
afraid to voice our ideas for fear of peer rejection. We want to fit in, so we start by not standing out. In A Whole New Mind, author Daniel H. Pink (2006) tells a story that has become folklore among designers. It is the story of Gordon MacKenzie, a former longtime creative at Hallmark Cards, who often visited schools to talk about his career. While in the class rooms he would always make it a point to ask, â€œHow many artists are there in the room? Would you please raise your hands?â€? What he would soon notice was a pattern among the answers. In the kindergarten and first-grade classroom, every student would wave their hand high. As the students started getting older and caring more and more about what others thought of them, there were fewer and fewer hands in the air. By the time the students reached the sixth grade, not a single hand would
raise because students had come to believe that they no longer had what it takes to be creative. It is from this example that we see the power of peer influence, the desire people have to fit in, and how that can affect collaboration (pp. 68-69). The second reason we have difficulty collaborating, is that we start believing we are not good at something unless we are the best. Many people get frustrated and give up on things when they feel that they are not the absolute best at it. I believe that the frustration lies within the fear of inadequacy. In a collaborative setting, when people feel inadequate, they have a hard time voicing their ideas and opinions for fear that other will ridicule them. This is a fear that I still struggle with today. I remember when I was a child, it took me longer then most of my peers to learn how to read. I particularly remember first grade.
During the assigned reading period my first grade teacher split us up into three different reading groups based on ability. There was the advanced group, which was already reading chapter books, the intermediate group that was reading at the proper first grade level, and then there was my group, who was still working on the basics and fundamentals of reading. To this day I can remember what it felt like to be in the bottom reading group. I remember hating and even giving up on reading because I knew I was not good at it. I remember feeling judged, especially when the advanced group was given the task of â€œteachingâ€? the beginning group how to read. This fear of reading followed me throughout my education. It took me a long time to discover the power of the written word and it took me even longer to develop a love for it. Still, to this day I have this bizarre fear of
reading out loud in public. I know that my fear in not based on my ability, but can be traced back to the fears that I developed for reading in the first grade. With this fear of not being the best, people often give up on collaboration before it even begins. Last but not least, we have been taught that our ideas must be our own, and we must not share them with others for fear that they will steal them. This is the barrier that is so ingrained in us that it becomes the hardest to break. To effectively collaborate we must be open to sharing our ideas so others can build upon them. It is this sharing and building process that makes for great collaboration. However, it is also this process that makes collaboration feel like a form of cheating, creating a negative feeling among people as to who takes the credit for the concept. Is it the person who had the original idea, or is it the person or
group that added to the idea and took it from good to great? We need to get past theses fears and realize that through collaboration it is everyoneâ€™s win when something new and exciting is discovered.
WE WANT TO FIT IN,
SO WE START BY NOT STANDING OUT.
WE BELIEVE WE ARE NOT GOOD AT SOMETHING,
UNLESS WE ARE THE BEST.
WE MUST NOT SHARE IDEAS WITH OTHERS,
FOR FEAR THAT THEY WILL STEAL THEM.
WHERE DOES OUR FEAR LEAD US?
As Marty Neumeier (2008) puts it in his book, The Designful Company, our fears lead us to a “Lone Genius” approach to creativity and innovation. We often leave the creativity to the people who know what they are doing. This idea is best exemplified by the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright, “who tends to regard [his] peers not as collaborators, but as competitors” (p. 104). But what we have to remember is that it takes more then just one man to build a house. It takes a team of people, from engineers to contractors, plumbers to electricians, and without one another the impossible would not be possible. Again Neumeier (2008) said it best when he wrote, “the closer you look at the history of design, the more you see that the lone genius is more myth than fact” (p. 106).
I mean who would Batman be without Robin...
...or a film crew?
BREAK FREE FROM OUR FEARS AND OPEN OUR MINDS
It is when we have control of our fears that we can collaborate effectively. It is about knowing that everyone still possesses that creative spark and unstoppable imagination we had as children. It is about knowing that even if we are not the best artists or spellers in the world: if we can effectively engage an audience and communicate our ideas, people will listen. And if we get people to listen, we can start a collaborative effort to build and expand upon our ideas. It is about letting go of our ideas for the greater good. It is about not being afraid to throw our ideas out there; no matter how crazy we think they sound. Because, with the right people, process, and tools, good ideas can become great ideas, and that is what leads to innovation.
“Next Stop... Mars!”
FORMULATING A RECIPE FOR COLLABORATIVE SUCCESS
In a recent design challenge held at Syracuse University, I had a unique opportunity to observe 36 students with different educational backgrounds from Cornell University, the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. In this three-day weekend charrette, six student teams with a combination of six students from each school, worked together to brainstorm new ways to combat “Bright Flight,” the growing problem where university-educated students seek employment outside the Upstate New York area after graduation. In combination with COLAB, a collaborative design center located on the Syracuse University campus, I was able to study and interact with the students as they went through a design ideation process. With the students’ backgrounds ranging from education to law, business
to anthropology, the design process was something completely new for most of them. The day started off with four professionals with advanced knowledge of trying to combat “Bright Flight” or “Brain Drain” from the Upstate New York region. After the morning session, the students were then armed with markers, post-it notes, and a one-page .pdf that I created to briefly explain the design ideation process. What I was most interested in was observing how they worked together, what process they chose to follow throughout their brainstorming secession, and what tools they used to help them along their way. With my research, my observational study and a survey I received from sixty-two top US executives, I began to see a pattern of what I believe is the most important parts of a successful collaboration.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE, THE RIGHT ATTITUDE Collaboration is not for everyone. A good collaboration takes practice and an understanding of how to best use the skills and talents of a group to get the greatest results. As Marty Neumeier (2008) discussed in The Designful Company, â€œprima donnas, classroom bullies, and nervous Nellies need not apply. Teamwork is an advanced form of creativity, requiring players who are humble, generous, and independently mindedâ€? (p. 110). In the collaboration process, it is vital to draw from multidisciplinary members who can each bring something new and different to the table. It is imperative for members of the group to check their egos at the door and open their minds to new experiences and understandings. But with different personalities and skill sets, how does one get everyone to work together?
“GETTING TO KNOW YOU, GETTING TO KNOW ALL ABOUT YOU.”
When pursuing a successful collaboration it is important to get to know the people in the room. For example, within the charrette there were six students from the three schools, placed into six groups. The students did not know each other. It was essential to the success of the charrette to find an activity where the students could “break the ice.” I needed to find a way for everyone in the group to get to know each other and feel as though they were on an even playing field. After some personal brain storming and talking with professionals whose job it is to run leadership development courses, I came up with an activity that turned out even better than I had hoped. After meeting each other for the first time at dinner, students were given a white sheet of paper and a marker, and told to visually
â€œGetting to like you, Getting to hope you like me.â€?
map their personal timeline from birth to today, marking the most important and influential dates in their life so far. It was a way for the students to get to know each other, recognizing the similarities and differences within their lives, and start to see how they could visually communicate their life story for their fellow peers. After ten minutes, each student had two minutes to â€œelevator pitchâ€? their life story to the group. During this process it was extremely interesting to see how the students represented their lives. Something that surprised me, that probably should not have, was the way that each student chose to visually communicate the important dates in his or her life, as it gave me insight into what type of thinker each was. The law school students in the room drew perfectly straight lines mapping their educational and professional achievements with words. Their hopes for
the future laid in financial success. The design student had an organic, curvy line that included pictures and text. It showed his path to becoming a designer and type of designer he hoped to be in the future. The urban development major mapped his life by the locations in which he grew up and now lived, marking the cities and towns that influenced him so far. These three extremes gave hints to their individual thought processes, but it was not until they worked together that I could start to understand their differences.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME GLUE: THE PERSON OR PERSONS THAT HOLD THE GROUP TOGETHER
Tom Kelly (2005) says in his book The Ten Faces of Innovation that the collaborator is â€œthat rare person who truly values the team over the individual, the project accomplishments beyond individual achievements. The person willing to set their own work aside temporarily to help you make a tight deadline. The person you can count on to jump in when and where they are needed mostâ€? (p. 114). It is these rare people who are able to hold a group together, make sure everyone has a voice, and keeps the ideas moving forward so that the group can meet its goals and deadlines. While not every group has them, without this person, a group is more likely to feel like a dysfunctional family on an unstoppable train that is leading to disaster. For the Syracuse design charrette, stu-
This is the glue...
...that holds it all together.
dent facilitators were brought in for just this purpose. As members of CNY Speaks, a â€œnon-partisan, non-profit effort that seeks to spark constructive conversations with Central New Yorkers about critical issues in the region,â€? these Maxwell graduate students were trained to maintain the even playing field. Each facilitatorâ€™s job was to make sure all students had a chance to share in the conversation and use their skills within the group (FAQ << CNYSpeaks, n.d.). They were there to maintain the values of the team, and help promote the process to keep the conversation moving forward. Without these facilitators, the experience might not have been as positive. It is important for every collaborative setting to have someone stepping into the role of collaborator because without that person, the power hungry and controlling would inevitably try and take over.
Power hungry people are mean.
WHY POWER HUNGRY PEOPLE ARE NOT FRIENDS OF COLLABORATION
We have all been there, working in a group setting where one-person does all the talking, listens only to the sound of their own voice, and shoots down the ideas of others even before they have a chance to take flight. And what if there are two of them? It is these people that lead to collaboration disaster. In the fifteen years that Morten T. Hansenâ€™s (2009) researched his book titled, Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid The Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results, Hansen found that there are four personal challenges that people have to overcome in order to collaborate effectively.
Theses Challenges are: Hunger forfor power. Leaders who seek powerwho want Hunger power. Leaders who seek powerwho want others toto depend onon them--dodo less well in in moving beothers depend them--less well moving yond their their narrow agendas and redefining success as beyond narrow agendas and redefining success bigger goals. This makes intuitive sense: giving up part as bigger goals. This makes intuitive sense: giving up of one’s focus on bigger can goal be felt as be partagenda of one’sto agenda to a focus on goal a bigger can relinquishing power. When a strong craving felt as relinquishing power.leaders Whenhave leaders have a strong forcraving power they tend they to stick to their own agendas. for power tend to stick to narrow their own narrow Furthermore, leaders wholeaders crave power are less inclusive: agendas. Furthermore, who crave power are letting others play a part in the decision process less inclusive: letting others play a partmaking in the decision can be seen as giving making process can up be power. seen as giving up power. Arrogance. Arrogant leaders--those who have anan attiArrogance. Arrogant leaders--those who have attude thatthat “I know best” andand thinking they areare smarter than titude “I know best” thinking they smarter others--do not involve peoplepeople in their decision-making than others--do not involve in their decision- as much as others. After all, if I think thethat smartest making as much as others. Afterthat all, Iifam I think I am person in the room and it all,and whyknow bother asking the smartest person in know the room it all, whylesser bother mortalsasking for their opinions? arrogant leaders don’t lesser mortalsAlso, for their opinions? Also, seem very good at don’t focusing on very bigger goals: “I know best, arrogant leaders seem good at focusing on sobigger my goal should be the bestsoone” seems to bebe the train goals: “I know best, my goal should the of best thought one”here. seems to be the train of thought here. Defensive Attitude. Defensive leaders have a hard time Defensive Attitude. Defensive leaders have a hard time taking criticism and believing that problems tend toto lielie taking criticism and believing that problems tend outside themselves. are not the ones who stand outside themselves.They They are not the ones who stand upup in in a room and say, “I am accountable here.” Furthera room and say, “I am accountable here.” Furthermore, defensiveness is not the best attitude forfor redefinition more, defensiveness is not the best attitude
of success: theof more defensive a leader is the aless that is redefinition success: the more defensive leader leader goes beyond agendas. Andagendas. the more the less that leadernarrowing goes beyond narrowing defensive leaders have, theleaders less inclusive theyless And the attitude more defensive attitude have, the become. that if they openthat up to inclusiveThey they somehow become. believe They somehow believe if other they wouldpeople, be admitting they were wrong. theypeople, open up to other they would be admitting The reality is different, of course: others participate they were wrong. The reality isletting different, of course: letin ting the decision-making process is not the same as admit-is others participate in the decision-making process ting tothe ones ownasshortcomings. not same admitting to ones own shortcomings. Fear. leads toto the tendency toto stick toto one’s own Fear.Fear Fear leads the tendency stick one’s own narrow agendas rather then focus onon bigger goals. narrow agendas rather then focus bigger goals.When one’s identity tied to isone’s agendas instead of the of When one’sisidentity tied to one’s agendas instead broader goal, defeat becomes personal. The same goes the broader goal, defeat becomes personal. The same forgoes inclusiveness: openingopening up decision making making to otherto for inclusiveness: up decision people’s views willviews prevail, notand theirnot own. other people’s will and prevail, their own.
-Hansen, 2009 pp.160-162 -Collins, pg.160-162
It is these challenges that stop collaboration dead in its tracks. It is up to the individual to recognize these challenges and address them before collaboration can begin. As a member in a collaborative group, one must be willing to listen to everyone’s ideas, add to them, and build from them to create something new and innovative.
IT’S MORE THAN JUST TEAMWORK
Thinking back through my education I remember the days when I hated group work. I remember the days when group members and I would split the work in less than equal parts, work on it individually, come back together right before the assignments was due, and inevitably one lucky person (most often me) would get to do even more work piecing all of it together and filling in the blank spots for those who did not complete their portion of the assignment. To this day this still happens in classrooms and corporate offices all over the world. What people need to realize is… this is not collaboration. This is a poor excuse for a group tackling a project by defining strict roles and dividing tasks. There is no advancement of ideas and no process to take those ideas to the next level. Hansen (2009) argues that “collaboration needs
to involve people: If all that is going on is shipping data back and forth between units, its not collaborationâ€? (p. 15). I completely agree that when people do not truly understand the difference between collaboration and teamwork, collaboration is met with a negative reaction. When I surveyed sixty-two corporate executives and asked what they disliked most about group work, fifty-five of them clearly stated that they disliked when people did not follow through on their commitments and did not do their fair share of the work. These are fears that follow us whenever we are put into a group setting. The only way to get past these fears is by learning a collaborative process where there is no room for those uncertainties to exist.
Breaking work into parts... is not collaboration.
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO INNOVATION
There are many paths one can take in the pursuit of innovation, and they all include collaboration. Business Model Innovation is quickly being considered the ultimate achievement in a new wave of strategic thinking. “How do you come up with a business model that differentiates you and that creates value for your customers and, by doing that, puts you in a unique position in your industry?” (Innovation: The View From The Top, 2006). Business Model Innovation is about not only changing the physical business model of an organization, but it is about redefining the innovation process and the company’s day-to-day culture in the pursuit of innovation. IBM is in the course of making a strategic change to the way they achieve their product innovation. They are redefining themselves as well as their business model to globalize their
structure by creating collaborative hubs around the world that will rebalance their vast resources. With over 330,000 people working around the world, it is important for a company of this size to have a better understand of all the resources and ideas it has to offer (Innovation: The View From The Top, 2006). For IBM, the importance of collaboration lies in the importance of what they can learn from one another. The second road to innovation is driven by technology. Research and Development companies like Blue Highway, whose main objective it is to, â€œcreate and deliver innovative, intellectual capital to its customers,â€? is looking for technology to drive ideas and predict new breakthrough markets (A. DiRienzo, personal communication, 2009). While this reliance on technology can have undiscovered potential in new markets, it is also extremely uncertain
whether the time and resources invested in the projects will, in the end, pay off with economic benefits (Brown 2009, p.20). Even so, the pursuit of new technologies continues, and companies like Blue Highway look for collaboration with outside parties to make these discoveries. Some of the many collaborators that Blue Highway works with today are in government agencies, universities and private labs interested in diagnostic and healthcare research. All these collaborators combine their insights and ideas in the hopes of developing radical and breakthrough innovations. Finally there is the road to innovation that is paved with human centered design strategies. This innovative methodology is called DESIGN THINKING, and focuses on understanding users on multiple levels before looking to technologies and market shares to answer users needs. Design is no
longer about the â€œposter and the toasterâ€? (Neumeier 2008, p.13). The aesthetic and image based design of the 20th century has been replaced by 21st century design thinking that includes processes, system and organizational design. Design has moved into an industry that tackles big ideas instead of small problems. It is through everyday design practices that we can study an effective collaborative process, because it is designers who are masters at interdisciplinary collaboration. We are the glue that binds specialists together. It is through the evolution of design that we have discovered how to effectively communicate across a myriad of disciplines. We are the ultimate facilitators in a world of communicators.
Follow, Follow Follow, Follow...
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD...
WHY DESIGNERS HAVE A HEAD START
As a designer there is a certain method to our madness and this most often involves collaboration. Throughout my design education I was never taught a magical stepby-step process on how to effectively communicate or collaborate with my peers. Instead we learn by doing, and so it was early in my experiential design education that I first learned how to collaborate. It was nearing the end of my first semester in industrial design when my professor announced a break from traditional classes to compete in a â€œdesign charrette.â€? He immediately broke our class into small groups and gave us our design brief. We quickly realized that one: we were not going to get much sleep, and two: the only way to succeed in the challenge was by working together as a whole. It was through this first design charrette that I truly learned what
it meant to collaborate. We had less then three days to define the problem, choose a solution, and build full scale working mockups that would help us communicate our ideas. It was a new and exhilarating process for me as a student designer, and to this day I can confidently say that this is the time when my mind made the switch from group work hater to collaboration supporter. I saw the power and creativity that came from having more than one person tackling the project. I was utterly impressed by the amount of work we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. It was because we were able to work collectively towards a common goal that everything we wanted to accomplish got accomplished. We met our deadlines with only seconds to spare, but in the end, we were able to proudly communicate all the work we had done. We worked cohesively
as a team, sharing and building upon each other’s ideas, using the power of that unity to help us succeed. It is through projects like these that designers are educated on the power of collaboration. We receive an early understanding of the way to go about collaborating, and over time we learn how to infuse our own creative process into it in order to produce innovative results.
“All of us are smarter than any of us.” -Tim Brown, President & CEO, IDEO
Floating food on a water conveyor belt... â€œOh the possibilitiesâ€?
LEARN TO THINK LIKE A DESIGNER
In Tim Brown’s book, Change by Design, he expresses the idea that if everyone in the world knew how to think like designers, the world’s biggest questions would have answers. It is a very powerful argument, which shows the potential for design thinking to impact the world. Design thinking is about taking a human centered approach, getting out into the world to find user’s needs that they themselves do not know exist. It is about not being afraid to fail and fail often, and to learn quickly from our mistakes. It is about knowing when to ask for help and learning the importance of collaborating with others so that we can build upon each other’s ideas. It is about learning how to communicate and find exciting ways for us to tell our stories. Most importantly, it is about having a positive influence on the world beyond just the “poster and toaster.”
In the world of design the potential to unlock the answers to questions are endless, because we do not fear the wrong answer. We know we are on the path to finding the right one.
â€œDesign thinking is about looking beyond the box, past the room, and into the stars to find innovation.â€? -Leigh Cohen, Designer
THE POWER OF THE POST IT
No one could have guessed that a small piece of paper and weak adhesive would combine to create a product with its own cult following. The Post-it note has become a staple in corporate offices and design firms around the world. It is used as a way to visually organize thoughts and ideas with limitless mobility. It sticks, it un-sticks, it moves around the wall, and offers the ability to reformulate ideas and discover unlocked potential. It is this ability to visually display information that makes the Post-it note an amazing tool for collaboration. Tools have always played an important role in helping improve and facilitate work. The same is true for collaboration. Tools as simple as a pen and paper and as complex as a networking site online can be used to facilitate and support successful collaboration. These tools are important to the pro-
cess because they fill the gap left behind by lack of exposure to collaboration in their formative academic careers. Not everyone has been given the opportunity to experience and cultivate his or her own collaborative process while in school, because schools often promote anti-collaboration. It is not until they become employees at a company, that they are asked to effectively collaborate with one another. If no one is there to coach them on what effective collaboration is, how can they be expected to succeed? With the right tools, the learning curve can be reduced and the potential for successful collaboration is greater.
It sticks, it un-sticks, it moves around the wall... Tools
The power of the Post-it.
THE FIGHT FOR TEAM ROOMS AND THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL FOR THEIR FUTURE
Space can be another powerful tool for collaboration. I have often questioned why students are so drawn to team rooms on the Syracuse University campus. Students cannot seem to get enough of them. Located in the Whitman School of Business, students wake up early to push, shove and literally fight for their spot in a six by eight foot room. These rooms with their white walls, four chairs, and standard tables, feel more like prison cells than collaborative centers, and offer little in the form of tools for collaboration. The tools that they do offer, flat screen televisions and white boards, are not often utilized. It is a quiet place for student groups to meet and work on projects. With these rooms in such high demand, they are seldom available, especially to non-Whitman students. The lucky
non-Whitman few who are able to inhabit one of these spaces, must relinquish it immediately if they get caught. It makes one start to ponder the possibilities that these rooms hold. Tim Brown (2009) says that in order to build a culture of innovation, you need an environment â€œin which people know they can experiment, take risks, and explore the full range of their facilitiesâ€? (p. 32). Could these rooms be the answer? What tools could they offer to facilitate stronger collaboration? Could they inspire people to be more creative? Could they offer supplies for people to experiment with? The possibilities feel endless, and with a demand so strong for an empty cell of a room, think of the possibility for the demand of a space that inspires, drives collaboration and supports innovation.
â€œThink of the possibility for the demand of a space that inspires, drives collaboration and supports innovation.â€? -Leigh Cohen, Designer
THE BIGGER PICTURE OF COLLABORATION
Companies today are quickly realizing that in order to survive, they must make changes. By supporting a collaborative environment that will fuel a company’s need for innovation, leaders are quickly learning how to stay ahead in tough economic times. An example of economy driven collaboration can be found in the recent partnership between two Memphis, Tennessee corporations. Both FedEx and TruGreen Lawncare rely heavily on seasonal workers. Training new workers at the beginning of the season costs a great deal of money, but retaining thousands of extra workers after the end of the “busy season” is no longer an option for either company. What started out as an out-of-the-box comment by a TruGreen executive in a brainstorming session, resulted in a solution to help both businesses retain the trained seasonal help they needed.
The solution: Since TruGreenâ€™s busy months are March through September and FedExâ€™s rush season is October through February, seasonal workers at one company get priority hiring at the other. Plus, if the workers return to their original company when demand is high, they will receive a rehire bonus. This off the wall idea became a collaborative effort that resulted in a solution that has worked well for both the companies and the employees, with savings projected at several million dollars. Each company saves money and retains trained seasonal help and the seasonal employees have priority hiring and year-round employment (R. Cohen, personal communication, 2009). I feel that by effectively utilizing the right people, process and tools, successful collaborative efforts such as TruGreen-FedEx can become more commonplace in the
business world. I believe that collaborative knowledge is invaluable to all ages and should be adopted as a part of the curriculum in early education classrooms, so that knowing how to collaborate effectively with one other will become second nature to secondary and post secondary students. By not stifling creativity and properly teaching the collaborative process to students at a every age, we will be helping to transition them into the real world. We will also help provide the world with people that can think and function collaboratively when the need arises. To do this, we need to stop breeding a culture of fear and learn to be fearless. We need to learn to have fun while finding new ways to solve problems. We need to remember that we all have the power to create, with an unstoppable imagination that is just waiting to be unlocked. Of utmost importance, we need
to become better educated on how to use the people, process and tools of collaboration successfully, so that all the pieces can function together effectively to solve complex problems and find innovative solutions.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harperbusiness.
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“Bat-Climb” Batman (1966) (TV) http://www.bat-mania.co.uk/trivia/batclimb.php
19_ “The King and I” The King and I (1956) http://www.imgartists.com/resources/ artists/107_4c.jpg
33_ “Yellow Brick Road” Wizard of Oz (1939) http://www.carversation.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/yellow_brick_road. jpg
Published on Jan 7, 2010