Cooperative sounds good, right?
Life has been humming along; work has stabilized after a period of seismic activity; for all I knew we were doing things right. I could have happily gone on with my life, leading a culture of cooperation within my team, had I not scrolled past this interesting table by John Spencer:
I love this because as I read the left side, it mirrored my thought process of thinking “yea! Cooperation is sweet.” Immediately when I got to the first line of the Collaborative column, I was thinking “Ahh, but this is better!” Without saying anything negative, he shows us that you can run an organization either way, that you need both, but there is a distinction.
Would you rather have respect or trust?
When the proverbial shit was hitting the fan in September, I was up late on a Sunday night rolling back a release that had gone awry. I remember plugging in my phone before bed, and the war that was going on in my head: to disable the alarm and take a personal day or to go into work. I went to work. At the time I respected the intelligence of the other leaders, but I didn’t trust that they would make the right decision. I feared they would re-release the troublesome code, sending us back into trenches.
This was an eye-opening experience and it shed light on what exactly was causing work to be more stressful of late. By finding it and naming it, I was able to begin dealing with it. Cooperative thinking comes easier to engineering orgs than collaborative thinking, and this caused an imbalance where trust was lacking. A healthy organization needs both. By focusing on unifying our vision, empowering individuals, and building a tight culture I’ve begun the work of turning it around.
What does this mean in practice?
|Cooperative Habits||Collaborative Habits|
|Working through a problem and then presenting it to the team||Working through a problem as a team|
|Shield my engineers from product or support||Integrate my team around a shared vision|
|Projects are driven by what and how||Projects are driven by who and why|
|Questions are given answers||Questions yield discussions|