Real coop­er­a­tion or just a bit of glam­our around it

A reallocation of leadership, responsibility and participative cooperation are steps towards “next level organisations”.

In my sem­i­nars on inter­cul­tur­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty, I always look for­ward to a small but very effec­tive exer­cise. I invite the par­tic­i­pants to think about their grand­par­ents when they were as old as they are today. In oth­er words, the good old days when the inter­net was still unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry and social media was some­thing you only dreamed of in sci­ence fic­tion films.

In three-way dis­cus­sions, the par­tic­i­pants immerse them­selves in this time and gath­er infor­ma­tion about the val­ues that were pop­u­lar back then, which prac­tices and cus­toms were impor­tant, how their grand­par­ents coped with every­day life and how they inter­pret­ed coop­er­a­tion. This very quick­ly makes it clear in how many areas soci­ety is chang­ing and how much change they them­selves have already expe­ri­enced and how they have adapt­ed almost play­ful­ly.

And how do com­pa­nies and organ­i­sa­tions react to the con­stant­ly chang­ing ideas, atti­tudes, and pat­terns of their employ­ees? How do they adapt to chang­ing envi­ron­ments and sit­u­a­tions? Do they ori­en­tate them­selves exclu­sive­ly towards tax opti­mi­sa­tion or mar­ket dynam­ics? Are they stick­ing to ‘we’ve always done it this way’, per­haps with a bit of glam­our thrown in? The many dis­cus­sions about ‘New Work’ are often just scratch­ing the sur­face, but the under­ly­ing atti­tudes and beliefs are still the same as they were in their grand­par­ents’ day.  

A real­lo­ca­tion of lead­er­ship, respon­si­bil­i­ty and par­tic­i­pa­tive coop­er­a­tion are steps towards “next lev­el organ­i­sa­tions”. Imag­ine if over­bur­dened man­agers were giv­en new room for manoeu­vre. They could spend more time on things that they actu­al­ly enjoy and are good at. Employ­ees could recog­nise their devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties and learn that tak­ing on respon­si­bil­i­ty does­n’t just mean addi­tion­al over­time. It would be a grad­ual exper­i­men­ta­tion with lead­er­ship tasks. Col­lab­o­ra­tion could thus be expe­ri­enced as real, joint work. Achiev­ing impact togeth­er and cel­e­brat­ing suc­cess­es togeth­er should not just be a dream, but an every­day real­i­ty.

What do you think? How can this work? I look for­ward to hear­ing your ideas!     



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Ruth Bolter

I share my international experiences with people in very different locations all over the world. Making connections where they are not obvious is what inspires me and what I like to make available to others.