Cooperation achieves the “I”, but Collaboration achieves the “We”

So what exactly is collaborative advantage?

True collaborative advantage means that people agree to work together to achieve what’s best for the organization rather than what’s best for themselves, their group or functional area—even when it means giving up time, budget and other resources.

We can’t emphasize this important distinction enough:

In many teams and organizations people cooperate but few collaborate, and there’s a big difference between the two. One way of expressing this difference is that cooperation is required to achieve what “I” want or need — but collaboration is required to achieve what “we” need.

Whether you’re a:

  • CEO
  • VP
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Supervisor
  • Even a front-line employee

Your words, actions and leadership style are crucial to cultivating you and your company’s collective ability to cooperate efficiently and effectively.

But you must also acquire, model and help to instill in others the skills and techniques that transform mere teamwork into true collaboration.

This is the only way to create an environment that achieves:

  • Broad participation
  • Heightened creativity and superior performance
  • And that sustains a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

To learn more about creating collaborative advantage in your organization, download Glowan’s latest white paper titled Business Leaders – Without You, There Is No Collaborative Advantage.

Be better and brighter.


Social Media = The Main Monkey Business?

There’s a rock instrumental from Rush I really like called “The Main Monkey Business”. Lead singer and bass player, Geddy Lee, said the title of the song comes from a phrase his mom used to describe someone up to no good.

Long story short is, this person was up to hijinks and my mother was telling me, “Well I think there was some monkey business involved”, and I said, “What do you mean, monkey business? What kind of monkey business?” And she said, “The MAIN monkey business”. So I love that phrase and every time I think of her saying “The MAIN monkey business” it makes me laugh. (from an interview)

For many, social media means people up to time-wasting hijinks = the main monkey business.

Early in July I wrote a post at HRmarketer titled We’re social media hippies who live in Mamby-Pamby Land. I can dig that.

Here’s an excerpt:

“No, we recommend that managers have no relationship with their direct reports outside of work — don’t go to lunch with them, don’t have a beer with them after work, and definitely don’t offer solutions to their personal problems — and that they should keep their personal business to themselves and offline. Fraternizing and social media are dangerous and exposes our firm to great risk.”

Those were words I heard recently from an HR executive at small company of about 500 employees.

Wow, I thought. That’s just one big hot ball of fun.

Those of us who have big “voices” in social media tend to forget that the rest of our world still has a lot of catching up to do.

But guess what? The main monkey business isn’t just for kids and Mamby-Pamby Land hippies anymore.

According to new research from The Pew Internet & American Life Project:

Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.

The use of status update services like Twitter has also grown—particularly among those ages 50-64. One in ten internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.

Folks who’ve been in the workforce for quite a spell, many of whom are leaders and management.

Take Twitter as one example — there’s a lot of learning and networking value for individuals and organizations (an internal-org equivalent is Yammer).

No, you don’t have to share what you’re eating for lunch with everyone, or that you have to drop your pet iguana off at the vet, or that your daughter is dating a dink.

You can actually learn stuff. (You will have to sift through above a bit, though.)

Hey, the 24/7/365 world may be killing us, but there’s a way to revitalize your heart and mind in 140 characters or less, and in only 30 minutes three times per week, just like physical exercise.

Want to learn more about leadership? Then create a Twitter channel in your Twitter application of choice with the hashtag #leadership and learn the “leaders” (I use TweetDeck).

Want to learn more about human resources? Then create the #HR Twitter channel and learn from the smart “people” folk in the industry.

Each specific hashtag channel is rich in content sharing from highly respected publications, blogs and thought leaders in those topic areas. There is no end to the topic channels you can find on Twitter! And that also means you’ll expose yourself to fantastic networking and mentoring opportunities that will fuel the need for face-to-face interaction at local events and national conferences.

There’s also TweetChat where you can go to specific virtual room related to a specific hashtag and connect with people talking about similar things.

These great informal learning and employee development channels on Twitter can help with your outreach strategies for “networking” as well — identifying potential job applicants, consultants, vendors and who knows who else.

And that’s only the beginning.

I’ll take the main monkey business every time.

Be better and brighter.

L3-TV: Stop jammin’ me. Kill the indirect convo and give it to me straight.

Remember the 1980s, when the daily hive-buzz collective of constant interruption was limited to office water cooler chatter, telephones ringing and fax machines screeching?


Jump back to todays future with all the “now” online and smart phone technology that’s supposed to keep us organized and focused, when the truth is that the true average length of time we can focus on any project of any kind is 11 minutes before being interrupted. (Based on research referenced in The Myth of Multitasking, which I highly recommend.)

11 minutes.

From the paper memos of the past to e-mail and text messages and social networking and instant messaging, the unfortunate insult to injury on top of that limiting 11 minutes is the amount of indirect and ineffective communication and jargon employers still heap upon their employees. That includes the small talk in order to avoid the important conversations that have to occur.

Been there, done that.

Thank goodness my friend in human resources are working hard to change this. The HR Capitalist Kris Dunn gets it right when he suggests that when delivering bad news, you’re a headline writer and you lead with the headline – 10 words or less in the first 5 seconds. Then, you’re a friend, peer/boss and counselor, who knows no time limit.

Bad news, good news and all news in between, why not keep it simple and direct first, and then you can chew the fat later? There’s enough white noise coming from the hive-buzz collective we’re fused to 24/7/365 as it is.

“We want you to come in for an interview.”

“You’re hired.”

“We want you to run this project.”

“You’re being promoted to manager.”

“You’re fired.”

Of course I’m oversimplifying, but you get what I mean. If you work on your employee communications to be concise and direct from the point of recruiting, hiring, on-boarding and beyond, your employees will likely reciprocate, improving retention and making for a much clearer and productive work channel in so much white noise.

What a wonderful world that would be.

Now, back to the baby-cation. Enjoy the music.

Because without the how, you diminish the what.

I love the drums and the drummer Neil Peart.

What do you do when you’re one of the best drummers in the world? Do you just put your musical chops on cruise control and play the same way over and over again?

No, you push yourself and look for tools, resources and training that add depth and diversity to your playing. You strive for continued excellence and elegance.

That’s exactly what Neil Peart did.

In 1994, Peart became a friend and pupil of jazz instructor Freddie Gruber. It was during this time that Peart decided to revamp his playing style by incorporating jazz and swing components.

Here’s some of Freddie’s advice:

“How you do what you do is almost as important as what you do. Because without the how, you diminish the what.”


If only all our top performers sought out their own training and development, their quest to be better. I’m sure some of them do, but the old push model of “one training program fits all” just doesn’t cut it any more in this constantly changing world and endless streams of information.

Organizations need a much more flexible and adaptable model for their entire workforce, like an on-demand, guided and self-guided methods of on-the-job training.

This includes helping and encouraging employees (and leaders) to identify their own tools and resources they feel would better improve their capabilities as well as enhance their roles and responsibilities, all the while ensuring there is alignment between individual, department, organization and overall growth. Some of this training could also come from informal learning networks outside of the company.

Consider the article from the latest Chief Learning Officer titled Better Together: Moving From Push to Pull Learning.

In a pull platform, talent development emphasizes on-the-job learning and informal structures rather than a formal training program.

Pull learning gives people the ability to confront challenges and draw out the resources needed to develop solutions.

In addition to developing learning platforms that enable flexible learning, moving to a pull mindset requires redefining leadership.

In a push world, leadership means developing a program and enlisting others to follow it.

Drum roll, please.

In a world of pull, it’s about helping people to develop the capabilities to become leaders in their own context so when they’re confronting an unexpected challenge they have the initiative and the questing disposition that will make them want to embrace that challenge and find creative ways of overcoming it and addressing it, and in the process learning from that experience.

Queue the crash symbol.

I’ve always been a big proponent of pull learning but also realize in my experience that it’s been easier to pull off in smaller organizations in the early stages.

But as the article states, the long-term decline of return on assets for public companies in the U.S. Since 1965, down 75 percent and showing no sign of stabilizing, let alone turning around, the traditional investments in push corporate training are bleeding more than ever these days.

Or are they? Many more enterprises today are becoming more flexible and fluid with their formal and informal learning programs. Maybe todays transformation is a combination of various learning streams — push and pull — internal and external — all the while the evolution is rapid and ever-changing.

Regardless, the need for quality training remains. Because without the how, you diminish the what.

Instill the quest to be better in all your employees and leadership.

Change Management: strengthen your Em-tel and over-communicate

It’s baby-vacaton week, so bear with me. If you haven’t already heard my second daughter was born this past weekend. I promise I’m only fiddling with “work” stuff early in the morning when everyone’s asleep.

Onward with this post then. My first daughter will be two years old next month. In the months prior to the birth of our second, we’ve been introducing our first to the concepts of “new baby” and “your baby sister” and “sharing our time”.

You know, change management. Going from point A to a hopefully better but different point B, which can be a painful process for many people.

Although my first daughter is communicating more and more, she’s still a big mix of signs, words and babble.

You know, the unfortunate way many of us communicate everyday at home and at work.

That makes for day-to-day communication and any change management initiatives tough to roll out.

I remember in my very recent past at rolling out a new project management software service to our marketing services team with no introductory training or warnings of any kind.

Here — start using it. Blank faces of resistance followed. I had to start over and reintroduce the right way.

When you initiate change in your organization, I recommend first and foremost strengthening your Em-tel™.

Wait, what?

Your emotional intelligence. Em-tel™ is just my play on the term “intel” (intelligence = vital information) as it relates to your ability to:

  • Perceive, understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of your employees.
  • Listen to your employees and empathize with where they stand (not to be confused with sympathize — empathize means the ability to engage and relate, while sympathize means to “feel sorry for”).
  • Communicate clearly and effectively while exhibiting grace under pressure.
  • Inspire excellence and productivity via your leadership style of “do to get it done” with integrity, authenticity and transparency, even in the most difficult of situations.
  • Positively influence your employees across teams and departments to create collaborative and competitive advantage.

And here are some more keys for communicating during change:

  • You cannot over-communicate during change. Develop a written communication plan about the change or changes to ensure that all of the following occur.
  • Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, Intranets, and more.
  • Communicate all that is known about the changes, as quickly as the information is available. (Make clear that your bias is toward instant communication so some of the details may change at a later date. Tell people that your other choice is to hold all communication until you are positive about the decisions. This is usually disastrous to well-managed change.)
  • Provide significant amounts of time for people to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input.

Gotta go. The family awakens!

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: The Secrets that Set Us Apart

My second daughter was born early Saturday, August 21, 2010, at 2:34 a.m.

Life can be an exquisite banquet.

So new to the world she is. It makes me wish she was a true to John Locke’s tabula rasa theory. In other words, her mind is a blank slate.

Modern biology and neurology say otherwise; we are preprogrammed and predisposed to be this or do that.

Doesn’t mean we will, but we could.

She could be a great leader someday. So could my first daughter.

Ah, the secrets that set us apart…

But without being grounded in a solid upbringing of strong morals and ethics within a fully developed empathetic emotionally intelligent society, then all hell could break lose.

As it does everyday.

Take the recent Knowledge@Wharton interview of four fellows titled The Complicated Lives of Today’s Leaders: Why Being at the Top Is Harder Than Ever.

Glowan Principal and Founder John Anderson and I had an interesting discussion about this last week. Our conclusions based on the interview?

  • Life is a super-collider of information and we’re the protons being smashed together repeatedly almost every moment of every day. Humans aren’t capable of managing that kind of information so it takes collective leadership to process and manage an organization, not an individual.
  • We are an ever-increasing interconnected world with a thankfully ever-increasing thirst for transparency.
  • Our addiction to urgency keeps focusing too much on the short-term post-crises — i.e., how do we clean them up and make things better for next time, quickly, instead of focusing on the long-term to prevent crises and leadership failures.
  • Globally, and particularly in the U.S., to much emphasis is still placed on the the “Lone Ranger” leader — they must protect us and lead us out of Egypt, but if things don’t work out, then they can take the fall.
  • A football team has 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and 11 special teams players and a host of coaches but the quarterback gets almost all of the glory and all of the blame. And even though it’s our success model and part of the reason America has been so successful, we must transcend the dichotomy and find new ways of governing and conducting business.
  • The currency of our entire value system must move beyond money and really look at how we reward and incentivize people. And the choice of words in that statement alone means we have a long way to go.
  • The “better ethics” issue should be addressed much earlier in life — childhood — because the children grow up to be leaders, followers, and self-serving politicians and boards who create the pressure to “make the numbers” and increase the ROI regardless of ethics. Helping our children develop their emotional intelligence into adulthood is critical.

Emotionally intelligent leaders understand their emotions and the emotions of others and know to manage them, are more capable of facilitating collaborative advantage within groups (that leads to competitive advantage), can influence others with a higher level of integrity, are transparent in their decision-making, are accountable for their decision-making, are extremely empathetic and ethical and are great listeners, and the list goes on and on.

These are the secrets that set us apart that are fortunately no longer secrets.

From Better to Brighter. My HRmarketer-to-Glowan Journey.

Seven years ago in May of 2003, I had been working as a marketing consultant on behalf of a friend of mine who at the time was an HR strategist and consultant.

I had reached out to Mark Willaman, founder and CEO of, inquiring about his marketing software.

After a brief e-mail exchange, which he and I both saved, my friend and client didn’t buy, and unfortunately his work and mine dried up. The economy was only just coming back from the bust and I worried I wouldn’t find work.

In July of 2003, Mark hired me as a marketing research specialist. The rest is HRmarketer history.

Out of everything I’ve come to know in the greater HR marketplace, I’ve always had a personal affinity for leadership development, organizational development, employee engagement, executive and business coaching and all related things in between.

In fact, I’ve been a student of leadership development and coaching practices my entire professional life, helping to create employee development and training programs at each of the organizations I worked at previously, including HRmarketer.

But it was when I took part in the The Glowan Consulting Group‘s L3 Leadership Learning program in early 2009 that the experience was so profound that I knew without a doubt this was my calling. I felt an immediate and extraordinary connection to Glowan’s leadership development philosophy, its coaching models and its learning programs.

I fell in love. Yes, you can do that with work. Love of all things leadership. Just as I’ve loved my time with and each one of our employees.

So here’s the deal — I’ve joined Glowan as a principal and senior business consultant and will work closely with the Glowan team delivering leadership development, executive and business coaching programs, as well as drive business development activities. We help make leaders of all shapes, sizes and stages better and brighter.

Glowan means “to glow” in Old English. I really dig that.

Although I’ve left my role as president at after seven wonderful years, I will continue to serve as a board member/director at HRmarketer.

You can read my entire background in the About Glowan part of this blog, as well as the other Glowan Principals.

We look forward to serving you.