Episode 2: Collaboration
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Resilience in business is a hot topic these days – and is it any wonder as the world
continues to throw up major challenges to stability, and we as leaders and teams
grapple with an environment of constant uncertainty and change?
In the Global Challenge Round The World Yacht Race it was an environment that we
had to learn to adapt to fast. Otherwise you’d be at the back of the 12- strong fleet
before you knew it.
So, what made the difference for us? Well there’s no silver bullet as resilience is
multi-faceted. We actually identified 8 key factors that not only kept us on the
racecourse and in one piece, but also able to compete with the best in the
fleet. Here’s the 2nd factor. To see the 1st factor click here
So why is Collaboration the 2nd Resilience Factor? And what can you do to make it
The value of this lies in several simple premises. That many hands make light work.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Two minds are better than one (or 18 in our
case). So, when we were languishing down in 10 th place on leg 1 after 3 days at sea
I thought we better start.
Up until this point there really wasn’t a forum for collaboration across the whole
team, and whatever I and the watch leaders were doing to direct things just wasn’t
working well enough. We’d also noticed some unhelpful team behaviour starting to
show up within the team. There wasn’t a minute to delay especially as the lead
teams were already 70 miles in front.
So, at midday on day 3 we got everyone together and sat down in the cockpit at the
back of the boat for our first daily meeting. This was to update people on progress
and to get them thinking about what was working, what wasn’t, and what we could
do differently going forwards to get a better result.
However, there’s plenty of things that can get in the way of this being a fruitful
exercise. Fear of getting blamed for the poor performance or putting blame on
others. Or fear of making a stupid suggestion, or one in someone else’s area of
responsibility, and ‘treading on their toes’.
So, to combat that I opened the meeting with a speech about how “high performing
teams are completely open and brutally honest with each other as that’s the only
way to find the formula that works. If things are left unsaid for fear of conflict, then there’s a cost to that. None of us individually know how to sail this boat to the best of
our abilities, but collectively we do. So, let’s remember that as we go through this
meeting and be ok with the fact that we haven’t got it all worked out yet. Otherwise
we’ll never be open to learning”. And thankfully that did the trick.
The feedback came thick and fast. The two watches weren’t working well together as
they had started competing against each other and so weren’t sharing what they
were learning. The sail change teams weren’t briefing and debriefing and were
making the same mistakes repeatedly. Those that were steering and trimming the
sails were lacking focus. Our tactical strategy was weak.
So, I said, “ok what ideas do you have to fix all that?” – and 30 minutes later we had
a plan. This included uniting the team by setting daily team targets that would have
us compete against the other teams rather than against ourselves! With that we set
about turning our performance around. And that included me collaborating better
with our navigator to come up with a bold strategy to help get us back up there. From
that point on we had a daily meeting every day that was all around continuous
improvement through collaboration. By day 10 we were 6 th , day 14 we were 4 th , and
on day 17 we rolled into Boston in 2nd.
So that’s why Collaboration is the 2nd factor!
Top Tips to get you and your team Collaborating:
Make it safe for people to be open with each other and the team. Keep it solutions focused rather than looking for who’s to blame
The answers are always within – you just have to ask the right questions, and the right climate for them to come out
I’m a big believer that no-one knows how to their job better than those that do it every day. They are the ones that can see the process that isn’t working, or the way to optimise their or others performance. So, engage their brains and then empower them to take it to the next level
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