Home Concepts Strategy Coaching with Groups and Teams Collaborating for Survival and Success: Organizational Coaching Strategies to Meet Unique Opportunities and Challenges

Collaborating for Survival and Success: Organizational Coaching Strategies to Meet Unique Opportunities and Challenges

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5. As technology gives rise to independent arid often impersonal work, collaborative ventures satisfy a human need for community. In contrast to hierarchical organizations, collaborative ventures typically concentrate on joining rather than differentiating. People come together as peers for mutual benefit. They look for shared interests, goals, and benefits—often reinforced by a shared sense of a higher purpose. They recognize the need to take common risks, and they are pleased to receive common rewards. They are not partitioned into the leaders and the led. They are each a part of the whole, working together for an intrinsically better life. These ventures can have a humanizing, harmonizing, even spiritually-satisfying effect that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve within a traditional and isolated organization.

An organizational coach can be particularly beneficial for leaders who have learned to “go-it-alone” as individualistic, highly competitive organizational game players or as members of a group that has traditionally been isolated from the “main stream”. An organizational coach can help her client identify and appreciate those places in their heart where a yearning for community (or, in the case of those who have been isolated, a yearning for a broader community) still exists. These places can provide a client with guidance for transitioning to a more collaborative mode of leadership, as well as providing a framework for increased trust in those who are different in someway from oneself.

6. In an age of growing egalitarianism, collaborations offer the chance for increased personal involvement, control, and professional fulfillment. In the 1976 American film, Network, Peter Finch plays Howard Beale, a long time TV network news anchorman who tells his audience of millions: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” One of the reasons for this line’s enduring popularity is how deeply it resonates with people throughout the world who are frustrated with the hierarchical model, particularly if they are working in large organizations. Often, they see themselves as being at the mercy of limited superiors, left out of the decision-making process, stifled creatively and hamstrung by bureaucratic regulations. In a growing number of cases, people are willing to work harder and to forfeit traditional job benefits in order to take greater control over their destiny.

Kinds of Collaborative Arrangements

What do collaborative arrangements look like and how can coaches assist in forming and managing them? I can begin by noting that collaborative arrangements (and partnerships in particular)—unlike other organizational forms—involve the formation of relationships between entities (individuals or organizations) that retain substantial independence. The complex system that is formed includes a nonhierarchical structure, a collaboration-based culture, and a relatively equitable distribution of power and authority among the partnership’s chief participants. Collaborative ventures also differ from many other organizational forms in that they are often established in order to produce a specific product or service rather than to affect the overall operations of an organization. While there are many communalities among collaborative ventures, there are also significant differences—and, in particular, collaborations of three kinds.

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