Appreciating the Power of a Collaborative Community — Now more than ever!

laptop computer with internet contacts projection“There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” 

That’s the first line of Margaret Wheatley’s poem entitled, “Turning to One Another.”  As I read this poem recently, I found it deeply resonated with me and inspired a bit of soul searching as I reconnected with the value of community in my own life.

The next lines are, 

Ask “What’s possible?,” not “What’s wrong?”

Keep asking.

Notice what you care about.

Assume that many others share your dreams.

2020 has had a way of bringing into the light what we care about, hasn’t it? Some of the things we previously viewed as necessary, we’ve probably discarded. Whereas, other things, we may have taken for granted before, now have much deeper value. 

For me, one big shift has been my schedule. After years of 9-5 programming, I’ve discarded these routine hours in favor of listening to my client’s needs and matching my availability to meet theirs. Truly a gift of time that allows me to delve more deeply into my focus on collaboration. Another unexpected blessing came about when I was needed to support my daughters with the distance learning needs of my grandchildren. What a fantastic opportunity to spend time with my “grands”, as I call them, and tune into their strengths and coach them through the obstacles of remote learning. 

As we find our new footing in 2021, this is what I know, I care about collaboration. That has always been a key ingredient in my professional life, and social distancing heightened rather than diminished that awareness. 

Looking back, I was fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to work on a fully collaborative team right out of college. With collaboration as our base, we quickly became known on the national scene as a high performing team. We created space for each other, we were able to give critical feedback to each other, and we were able to flow and ideate in a powerful way. 

Once you’ve fully experienced that kind of collaboration, you never want to go without it.

This isn’t just a warm, fuzzy feeling. As a long time student of social learning theory, I know that we learn from and with each other. Social learning is both reciprocal and exponential. When we observe others, we learn, when we try things out in front of others, we learn. And when we engage in that together, our learning is multiplied by the number of people in the group. That’s a powerful learning model! 

A collaborative community doesn’t happen magically, or simply with the passage of time. We need to set the conditions for collaboration, set up reciprocal expectations, and maintain our team and our work in a shared, transparent environment. In order to collaborate successfully, you need a blueprint.

I’m working on that blueprint right now. In an upcoming webinar, I’ll reveal a new architecture for collaboration that can be enjoyed virtually — as that is a trend that won’t be going away any time soon! 

If you want to join me for the webinar, please contact me and let me know to add you to my invite list. Or you can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook where I’ll be sharing the details soon.

I’ll be sharing more from Margaret Wheatley’s poem in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, here’s the entire poem for you to enjoy. I hope it offers some inspiration for you as we all look towards a New Year with new opportunities to grow and learn!

“Turning to One Another” 

by Margaret Wheatley

There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about. 

Ask “What’s possible?,” not “What’s wrong?”

Keep asking.

Notice what you care about.

Assume that many others share your dreams.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. 

Talk to people you know.

Talk to people you don’t know.

Talk to people you never talk to.

Be intrigued by the differences you hear. 

Expect to be surprised.

Treasure curiosity more than certainty.

Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible. 

Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something. 

Know that creative solutions come from new connections.

Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know. 

Real listening always brings people closer together.

Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world. 

Rely on human goodness. Stay together.

Louise J Santiago, PhD
Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant

Where Leadership is Intentional Work

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