We hear so much about collaboration these days. Our work is more complex. The best solutions require input from diverse perspectives.
We at Fulcrum Associates have just started working with a fascinating simulation learning event, Friday Night at the ER. In it participants experience the challenge of working in a system where the unit managers must ultimately collaborate in the interest of the whole system. Otherwise, when one unit/part gets the best results for itself, other units–which, make no mistake, are connected in a process–suffer serious quality and financial shortfalls.
The folks at FNER use a simple model that lays out five levels of collaboration. Each level involves a greater amount of involvement and accountability on the part of the system players:
- Minimal CommunicationWe share just enough information to respond to the basic questions and requests of others in the system. At least, we have the illusion of working together.
- Communicate Needed InformationWe make the effort to find out what our colleague units’ needs are and give them the information they require.
- Treat Peers as CustomersWe move beyond just information to actively inquire how we can cooperate with and support our colleagues in delivering on the demands they face and the commitments they have made. We are still essentially operating, however, from a “silo” perspective.
- Jointly PlanWe deliberately get together with all of our colleague units to see how we can make this system we are all in work for all of us.
- Share ResponsibilityWe now put the success of the wider system ahead of our own part of the system.
I don’t think we are truly “collaborating” until we reach level 4.