LinkedIn Conscious Business Week 7: Collaboration
From the introduction:
For each week of this course I am going to take my notes on what I learned and turn it into a short blog post. I am hoping this will encourage you to take a look at the course and maybe do it yourself.
This week’s Conscious Business notes are all about collaboration.
Collaboration through conflict
As we saw in the post on communication, difficult conversations cause us to feel threatened and can lead to us becoming defensive. When this happens, we believe that we have all the answers, that we are right, and that they are wrong.
This state of “us vs them” can be though of as two people pushing against each other. If one person escalates and tries to push even harder, then the other person will escalate as well. And so no one ends up going anywhere.
Instead of pushing back and escalating a different and more productive approach is to yield your position for a moment and allow them to show you why they think you are wrong. This opens up discussion and sets the rest of the conversation up to improve understanding. After they have shown you their point of view you can ask permission to show them your point of view and share why you think your idea is best.
In all situations you likely won’t see the whole picture, or have all the knowledge. And so the people that oppose you won’t either. It’s important then to share the differences of what you both know which is the only way to come to a mutual agreement.
Eliminating sources of conflict
People communicate so they can collaborate. And people collaborate so they can achieve something that they could otherwise not do on their own. It’s this social instinct of humans that is one of the reasons humans have become the dominant species.
This is the reason why people often enter a conversation wanting something. If you could do everything on your own, then there isn’t much reason to involve others. Where this gets difficult is when conflicts arise. We all see the world from different points of view, have different knowledge and focuses and so have a different understanding of what’s going on around us. This is the source of all conflicts.
So before we eliminate conflicts we need to be able to identify them. And to do this we need to understand the factors necessary for a conflict.
The first is disagreement or difference of opinion. However, this is like a spark that lights a fire. It is necessary, but not sufficient.
Next, there needs to be scarcity. This is some limitation that prevents each group from obtaining what they want independently from the other. In the business world this is likely to be time or resources.
Finally, there’s unclear property rights. This is where the two groups disagree about who has the power to allocate resources, or about what decision making mechanism will be used in the case of unresolvable differences.
Now, all three of these factors are required for a conflict to occur. From that we can see that if any one of them is resolved, then the conflict will disappear.
Negotiation safety net
Let’s consider negotiation from a purely rational point of view. If I want to collaborate with you then I must believe that I will do better with you’re help than without it. The same is true if you want to collaborate with me. By that logic: if we are working together then we must both believe there is some sufficient value of doing so. If not, we will likely work on our own instead.
Yet, there is no way of knowing for sure that our collaboration will be of any value. It could happen that we can’t create much value together at all, or that we can create value but we can’t split it in a way that seems fair to everyone involved. In cases like this it’s best to end negotiations with an “agreement to disengage.”
This agreement, known as the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, is a sort of safety net. It is the worst possible outcome that you would agree to in a negotiation. Anything worse and it would be better to walk away.
We can’t do everything on our own and it’s naive to think that we can. Collaboration with others is one of the most important skills to poses, not only in the business world but throughout life in general.