Taro art 1212Co-authored by Michael Shell and Annette Karseras

When have you experienced true Team Collaboration? How can you encourage true Team Collaboration in your organization? These were the questions that kicked off November 28, 2014 Global Leadership Cafe in Tokyo, Japan.

Instinctively, we all know something about collaboration. We are social animals after all. But why is it that some teams just jell, while others struggle? Individually we cannot solve the global scale issues of today. We need to enhance our ability to coordinate collectively – within and between organizations and, at the micro-level, as teams.

The Team Collaboration Café began by exploring teamwork as an interplay of leadership and followership. Forming first pairs and then small groups, the 40-strong participants played a mirroring game, taking turns to physically lead or follow the movements of their partners; exploring the dynamics of collaboration as the leader-follower roles moved fluidly between the players. We had fun and we learned a lot.

From bodywork, to café style discussion, small groups shared and mingled. Memories of trust and safety rediscovered on one discussion table, bled into experiences of alignment and synergy spoken on another, were refracted through lenses of shared accountability, harnessing diverse expertise, celebrating wins and scores of other perspectives.

Finally, participants took insights from these variously re-invoked pasts and distilled them into an action; one small step each person could take individually in their own organization – to move purposefully nearer to achieving true collaboration.

Some of the shared commitments include:

  • Scheduling regular meetings to share passions
  • Saying thank you every day
  • Practicing Deep Democracy – meaning listening and respecting every voice
  • Sharing self more and be more open
  • Putting myself in other people’s shoes
  • Focusing on the quality of my relationships
  • Starting conversations by asking questions, not by giving the answers

We’d love to hear from you! How can you enhance team collaboration at work?