Hands up those who work for an organisation that has a vision statement. Hands up those who think that a company’s vision inspires them to collaborate. No such in-depth research exists but maybe it should; given that the likelihood of better workplace collaboration can be inspired directly by an organisation’s vision. For most workers in Australia, and pretty much most western economies, vision statements don’t seem to amount to much. Or at least they don’t prevent workers from sliding into a state of disengagement.
The rates of disengagement suggest barely 3 out of 10 people feel engaged in their workplace. That suggests a host of problems; only two of which are lost productivity and lost profits. By the way, chances are that an overwhelming majority of employees are not actually aware that they work in a disengaged and/or loss-making environment. HR departments and leadership are not particularly enthusiastic in sharing such data with their staff (probably because it has been gathered for strategic purposes). And that is where part of the issue starts; especially for those organisations that consider collaboration as a strategy for increasing competition.
Here is what I mean. Collaborating in any organisation, regardless of its size, implies that people (let’s call them people instead of employees for the moment) will understand that they share a culture which may be unique. Every organisation has one and some are very rich and nurtured in a strategic way, while others are more subtle. In the end, it only matters how well the culture enhances the capacity or the organisation adds to its aims. With that as a basis, collaboration may not be a difficult concept to explain. Essentially, organisational culture is to a large degree a product of cooperation and to some degree collaboration. To be more precise, it is when we co-operate and collaborate that the values, processes and aims of an organisation produce an effective culture.
With that in mind it is not too hard to recognise that a vision that resonates with people can act as a force: a motivating force that engages people in a variety of ways, including a propensity to embrace collaboration. It is then that some collaborators also assume the role of ‘vision sharers’.
In most organisations these individuals are not common. They tend to a make real difference by actively promoting and sharing the organisational vision. And they don’t do it in some easily recognised or deliberate manner; rather it is all subtle and symbolic. The vision sharers are story-tellers of sorts who tend to act in such a way that we ‘recognise’ the organisation’s vision through activities and interactions with them. Instead of ‘let’s talk about our vision’, it’s more like a ‘if we do it this way…’ type of conversation.
The central point here is that business today is not possible without strong shared vision. And that is the basic starting point for any good collaboration strategy. It’s not something that can be built overnight but nothing of real value ever was. Recognising the link between your organisation’s vision and collaboration is the first small step towards competitive business.