I tend to read all sort of material; industry publications, web sites, blogs (though I wish I had more time to respond so some of these), books and other items that come across my desk. Recently, the latest copy of “Success” magazine was delivered and I always glean some new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. In this particular issue (it has Leonardo DeCaprio on the cover), I particularly liked the article by well-known leadership expert, John C. Maxwell. For the record, much of this article is based on ideas he provided and he must get the lion’s share of the credit; I’ve just shaped things to have a BCM/DR perspective and used BCM/DR examples.
Basically, the article is about Cooperation and Collaboration amongst team and team members. When developing BCM programs, these two items play a very dominant role, for without either of these the program may not be able to move forward and capture the need of the organization. It takes both of these to really establish a strong program and strong contingency strategies for all areas. This includes the development of Disaster or Crisis teams and the implementation and maintenance of all plans, processes and exercises. If it’s to succeed, or any of these things are to success, there must be solid cooperation and collaboration.
You might not realize this but there is a distinction between the two. I have to admit I was surprised, as I tended to use them interchangeably. So, let’s define what cooperation and collaboration mean.
1 – Cooperation: Cooperation is working together in an agreeable fashion. I’m not talking bunnies and rainbows and
everyone sitting around enjoying team time (though this might help make for some fun team building exercises) but working together to reach a common goal in a friendly manner. Sometimes, this can mean a kind of ‘yes-man’ approach where everyone just agrees with everything. There is not challenge to people’s thinking or challenge to any strategies that are presented. There’s no effort to find gaps or errors on documents, plans, processes or other activities. The problem with nothing but cooperation is that plans and programs can be rather on the weak side, as it was established by ‘happy’ people not wanting to rock the boat or challenge assumption (for example). Too much cooperation can – and often will – offer programs with little substance.
2 – Collaboration: Collaborating is a team working together but with a bit of an aggressive edge. This doesn’t mean fisticuffs or drawn out brawls, though some badly run projects sometimes end up like this in the boardroom. What it means is that people challenge each other (not continuously criticize each other) to come to the best conclusion; the best strategy; the best fit; the best whatever. This approach pushes people to really think harder and investigate options and methods they may never have though of
without a little extra challenge. This way, plans and programs become stronger because every aspect has been reviewed and every assumption challenged. It also ensures that the program has a stronger buy-in because everyone had a hand in building it. Now I’m not naive enough to believe that cooperation isn’t needed here; it is. Teams can still collaborate in a cooperative manner but you can’t have good results if you don’t collaborate.
Now let’s take this a step further; what makes up a good collaborative team and/or team member? According to Mr. Maxwell there are four (4) characteristics attributed to such a person/team. In no particular order:
1) Perception: They don’t perceive other team member as competitors. They know they must work together to achieve
goals and objectives and want not only for themselves to succeed but the other team members also.
2) Attitude: They are supportive of each other and don’t let small things – or large things like a disaster or crisis – derail them from their goals. They keep positive and just work on what needs to be done, helping each other along the way. They show trust in others and don’t show suspicion towards their fellow team members.
3) Focus: The team is 1st, not the individual. The objectives and/or goals are priorities also. They keep their focus on what
needs to be done rather than loosing focus and concentrating on items and activities that aren’t associated with the goals at hand.
4) Results: A collaborative team member celebrates the successes of the team and of others; both large and small successes.
Bad results are seen as learning opportunities and not as things that put the team in a rut or sends them into a ‘spin’ where nothing gets done.
Overall, I believe (and so does Mr. Maxwell) that a collaborative approach to BCM planning and program building will generate stronger results than if the team simply cooperates together. Still, I know a collaborative team must cooperate together when final decisions are required and determined strategies are established. You won’t want to have team members continually trying to find gaps in plans/processes even after all the discussions have ended and the decisions made. That might just be a person you don’t want to have on your team, as they could be a toxic team member and be a hindrance to the objectives you’re trying to achieve through the BCM/DR program.
So keep all this in mind the next time someone says they are a team player. Are they really a team player or are they just a yes man paying lip-service to everyone’s ideas?
“Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility”
“Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”
by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex
Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3