Embrace Your Enemies, and Collaborate!

Dave Savage is a mass of contradictions – hippy from the Kootenays (me too), businessman, capitalist, activist. In short, he is a disrupter. In his latest project, the book Break Through to Yes, Dave and his cohort (including my colleague Michelle Phanuef) tackle the collaborative juggernaut.  Collaboration is the holy grail of leadership and insight, and yet it can be elusive.

A few weeks ago, Dave began our luncheon discussion by inviting each of us to consider the question – How can we help you with your collaboration? This is Dave at his best – engaging and open. A cornerstone of collaboration is of course, asking for help, and setting aside egos.

Set aside your ego, and seek contrarian thinking. This message resonated with me from our recent talk.  It is required if you want to effectively embrace the 10 steps of collaboration outlined in Break Through to Yes. Collaboration is a system; it is not an event. The 10 essential steps provide concrete steps for building a culture, learning together and creating a breakthrough in thinking.

Dave wrote his book about collaboration through a collaborative process. He has engaged, and continues to engage, a wide range of people about collaboration with the goal of understanding it more deeply and, in his words, to evolve the discipline of working together.

How comfortable are you when you don’t know the outcome?

It is counterintuitive – not knowing implies ignorance or even negligence.  For Dave, not knowing is an invitation to learning. He asked us this provocative question, as he asks any CEO who wants to work with him. The goal is to view a problem with beginner’s eyes and to meet it without judgement. How comfortable are you?

How do you include the people who are trying to get you to fail?

Dave told us some good stories about engaging the enemy.  He has been challenged in one of his many guises – an executive from the oil patch? This is California! You can’t help us! What is that gas guzzler you are driving? Dave engages his clients to think provocatively and to embrace the enemy.  To embrace conflict, to seek diversity, to engage others with an open heart, requires designing collaboration to include those who are trying to get you to fail.

So, embrace your enemy, and collaborate!