Not All Types of Collaboration Are Equal

How can we clearly differentiate among the varying degrees of collaboration? And how can we apply that knowledge to getting work done collaboratively? This Blogpost addresses:

  • The risk of burn out from what some are calling over-collaboration

  • Understanding that there are levels or degrees of collaboration leads to finding you need less collaboration that you thought.

  • How understanding these levels help you decide how to dedicate more time to the collaboration that matters and less time to the collaboration that doesn’t

  • Gets you to fewer meetings, fewer random emails or texts in the middle of the night

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Strong Collaboration is Intentional Collaboration

We talk about collaboration as if it were one thing that we all understand in the same way. For this discussion, there are three points I’ll make about degrees of teamwork: most of what we call teamwork is some form of helpfulness; helpfulness is good, but it’s not enough and; what we need is more intentional collaboration.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Stopping Teamwork Happy Talk

We’ve all seen them. Posters of rowing teams pulling together silhouetted against a golden sunset. Quotes from legendary coaches. Platitudes about teamwork outlined in a company’s “Core Values.” All of this amounts to lip service without any true action to support it.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Three Pitfalls of Traditional Team Building Models

In a previous episode of my podcast, Lessons from Mars, I mentioned that I became uneasy with the existing approaches to team development. I’d been working with Tuckman’s 4 Stages of Team Development - a standard in team development for decades.

Tuckman’s stages, which include Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing, offer useful insights into how groups form and mature as teams. However, as I dug deeper into the Four Stages as part of a team charged with creating a team development module for a Mars Management Development program, I found there were three key flaws with Tuckman’s model as it was applied to the corporate world.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Mars - The Ideal Environment for Experimenting with Team Building

My book is titled “Lessons from Mars”, and that is truly what it contains. Over 17 years as an associate at Mars, Inc., I was able to learn about teams hands-on and observe the effects of collaboration and team building strategies.

The culture at Mars was integral to my success in many ways, but three specific aspects made it the ideal environment for my research on team effectiveness.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Why I Do What I Do

I’ve said many times that my 17 years as an associate at Mars, Inc. was essential to the collaboration framework my colleagues and I developed and which led to the subsequent publication of my aptly titled book, Lessons from Mars. Serving as an internal effectiveness consultant gave me the opportunity to learn about Mars and its associates from the inside allowing me to truly understand the keys to effective collaboration.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Too Many Teams? Know The Why And What To Avoid Burnout

I was working on a large-scale org design project at Mars, Inc.  a few years ago. The change management leader for this massive initiative asked me to develop an approach to help teams to navigate the changes they would be experiencing as part of the reorg. I had some good ideas (I’ll share those in an upcoming post) that I quickly committed to paper.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
The Perils Of Psychological Safety

I’ve posted a couple of articles about trust and courage in teams in my blog, Teaming With Ideas. I connect my thinking about those two subjects to what’s become a justifiably hot topic in the realm of collaboration: psychological safety.

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Teams, Shared Goals And The Fallacy Of Additive Collaboration

One of the often-cited traits of “real teams” is that they have shared goals. I’m not convinced that the distinction between real teams and other kinds of teams is valid, but that’s for another post. What I am clear about is this: While shared goals are important, they aren’t what makes a team effective or more collaborative or, if you ask me, “real.”

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Team Dysfunction? Maybe It's Only A Malfunction

A few years ago, one of my HR colleagues called me with a request. “There’s this finance team I support and they are so dysfunctional it’s unbelievable. Can you help?” I paused, uncertain how to answer. I’d always felt that I was good with troubled teams, that I had a knack for working with dysfunction. But in this case, I balked.

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Teamwork: The Holy Grail

What do you mean when you use the word, “teamwork”? Teamwork means different things to different people in different circumstances. Because the word has so many meanings, and because collaboration is more important than ever, we have to be more precise about what we mean by teamwork. This is especially true if we want to foster it in our workplaces.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
The Courage To Trust

In my last post, I talked about the need to stop treating trust as a precondition for collaborative success. In my work at Mars, Incorporated I ask teams to think of low trust as a symptom of other more tangible issues, not as a problem in an of itself. I also remind them that trust, at its most basic, is an emotion.

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Carlos Valdes-Dapena
Trust Isn't A Precondition For Team Success

Trust isn’t a precondition for team success and we have to stop treating it that way. Don’t get me wrong; trust in teams matters - a lot.  But too many teams believe that they need to build trust first in order to improve their performance or address their issues.  

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