“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller
When Barbara looked at her phone’s screen, she saw a text message she never thought she would see, “Mom, I’m being called to the principal’s office, and it’s not good.” After rushing to the school, Barbara saw her daughter in tears and was informed that she had been caught cheating on two assignments. The principal went on to explain she had turned the same paper in for her English and history classes. Confused, Barbara further probed and found that the work filled the requirements for both classes and the essay had not been plagiarized. There was nothing in the classes’ instructions or school honor code that forbade turning in the same work for two different classes. The principal countered that two distinctive assignments required unique work and Barbara’s daughter had manipulated the system to get out of doing two papers.
In a collaborative business environment, we often assume the principal’s mind-set. Somehow using a team member’s work product for our own ends means we’re cheating. There’s never a need to reinvent a pivot table or write a new report when the work had been previously completed. Individual achievements don’t matter a whit if your team falters. Hoarding your work product from the team can be extremely damaging by wasting time and resources through duplicative effort. As leaders, we should praise efficiencies rather than viewing true collaboration as skating by on someone else’s work.
By the way, Barbara was a top performing business executive. After a vigorous discussion with the principal, her daughter was sent on her way without further repercussions.
One Project, Two Classes: Accelerators
- Where does your project, business, or workplace need more efficiencies?
- What work products already exist that can be leveraged or repurposed to solve other issues?
- Where might you encourage greater collaborationand sharing of work in order to make the entireteam more efficient or effective?
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.