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Mind shift: Focus on moving self interest to shared interest
(originally published on Linkedin)
Systems and processes
Predominantly, the systems we work in and the processes we work with are not designed for collaboration. Many of the systems we’ve inherited were designed in the industrial age and similarly, many of the processes were designed for specific contexts. Absolutely, we need to take an eco-system approach and improve systems and processes. But major system/process overhauls take time and, in my experience, the most sustainable changes are implemented incrementally. Nevertheless, if the system is designed for competition and the people in the system are incentivised to compete – then competition and self-interest will prevail. It is evident that requiring or legislating and even enabling collaboration across teams and traditional organisational boundaries is insufficient for change. An edict or direction to collaborate, doth not collaboration make; we need a mind shift that moves self interest to shared interest.
Real vs false collaboration
The theme of “real vs. false collaboration” emerged in my research somewhat unexpectedly and even a little disturbingly – it appeared that at times false collaboration was inadvertent and at times intentional. We are each as human as each other, so the potential impact of human agency should not be underplayed and opportunities to move self interest to shared interest should continue to be actively sought. Real collaboration provides opportunities for divergent thinkers to contribute, and is inclusive – at its core it is a diversity and inclusion agenda.
Shared incentives, measures and story-telling
Further, it seems that collaboration needs to be supported by shared incentives and shared measures. Evidence indicates that this is beyond structural changes, and scholars provide a range of ideas for consideration such as: peer recognition programmes; value-added performance metrics; monetising system value; building in structured competition (within a collaboration framework); and finding quick wins - to name some. But more and more I see real change and impact on individual lives through collaboration that can't be measured - so we also need to recognise and engage in story-telling, not just as an "add-on", but as a primary source for decision-making.
In the end we need to draw together the hearts and minds of “kamahi” – when people care about what they do, when their task is centred in their “why” or their purpose for being - then self interest organically moves to shared interest and a deep desire for collective impact. If our hearts’ cry is to make a difference where it matters, then we will.
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Nazanin Jenkin is a Persian Kiwi - a Persian by descent and a diaspora by circumstance. She lives in New Zealand; along with her husband of thirty years and two surviving, adult children.