Removing The Blocks


Posted on 12th Nov 2015

Collaboration and engagement are currently very fashionable buzzwords in business. We all want more of it in our organisations. Teamwork and communication have always been desirable goals and they don't come and go as buzzwords so much, but they are top level goals.

Team building, a phrase on which our industry is built is also a goal that is often stated as an objective for an event or project. However, team building is actually not a behaviour but a mechanism. If team building is effective it will lead to behaviours such as increased engagement and communication. When a goal is 'team building' then it usually means that there is no specific goal other than social team bonding, and that is why the industry is associated with fun activities.

A fascinating article in The Guardian this month talks about language and reading this lead me to wonder about these behaviours, that are so often the goals of the events that we create. Many species communicate, but the scale of our language is unique to humans. The article suggests that the thing that is actually unique is the degree to which humans collaborate as a natural instinct, and language is actually a tool which helps us to fulfill this instinct. While lions will collaborate to hunt prey, humans will collaborate to build bridges and that requires a very sophisticated language.

A possible conclusion is that such behaviours as collaboration, teamwork and engagement come naturally to the human species. So, if that is the case, why is the general consensus, not just in business but in sport and almost every other 'game' of life, that we need to create them, to proactively make them happen.

What if they are already there, but they are being blocked by an organisation's culture? If you try to build over a blockage it is unlikely to work, the problems come back and everyone feels frustrated. People will say that the intervention failed, but actually it never had any chance in the first place.

What are the blocks that are stopping your humans from behaving as they naturally would? That may be an uncomfortable question, but there can be no lasting change if it is not addressed.

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