Collaboration Leadership

_Stand Up MeetingMy name is Todd, and I write games for a bunch of Fools.

Sounds cool … but what’s your real job?

Well, actually that is my real job. For the past year and a half, my job at the Fool has been to foster collaboration among our employees. As we continue to grow, the need to maintain that feel of a “small company” becomes increasingly important.

And that’s where I fit in. My job is to make sure Fools not only know each other but are comfortable working with almost anyone at the company. The Motley Fool’s structure and hierarchy (Something we avoid like the plague) are constantly, intentionally changing, and over the course of a Fool’s tenure, he or she will work with a wide variety of other Fools. Logically, then, the more everyone knows each other (and feels comfortable around each other), the easier job transitions will be and the more quickly teams can reach a level of high productivity.

So how exactly do I accomplish this? Well, it’s not really limited to one specific thing, but a common theme is challenging employees with tasks that require creative thinking, insight, and open-mindedness. Some examples include regular pub trivia contests, puzzle-themed treasure hunts, team-building creative exercises, and improvisational workshops, to name a few.

In most of these offerings, I try to put people just a little bit out of their comfort zones. When people can comfortably confront and embrace the unknown, they can achieve far more than they thought was possible. And I hope you can see the business value in that. For instance, many of my puzzles and exercises don’t contain rules. Instead, the solver must use insight and teamwork to figure out how to reach the right answer. At first, people find this slightly scary. But eventually, they learn that in order to reach the right answer, they must open up their minds, come up with possible ideas, and explore them to their eventual success or failure.

In the short time I’ve held this position, the feedback has been very positive. Common reactions are: “I did things I never thought I could do,” “I loved the excitement of having that one big insight,” and “Thanks for giving me quality time with X or Y. I’ve never met them, but I really feel like I now know their strengths and talents.”

In future posts, I will give some more specific examples. For now, if you don’t have a Chief Collaboration Officer at your company you should consider it – maybe it is you!

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