Posts Tagged ‘Bainbridge Graduate Institute’

Leading the Way Through Collaboration

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by social venture network No Comments

Written by Liz Smith, MBA Candidate at Bainbridge Graduate Institute

People are the greatest asset within our organizations, and it is through the quality of their collaboration that we get the most out of their contributions. Yet creating a culture of collaboration within an organization is a highly nuanced and complicated process. At the Spring ’14 SVN Conference in San Diego, Judith Katz and Fredrick Miller, colleagues and authors of the book Opening the Door to Teamwork and Collaboration: 4 Keys That Change Everything, shared their 40 years of experience and expertise in helping teams and individuals to collaborate effectively, and begged us to ask ourselves the question: who do I need to be thinking with?

Judith Katz

Building our “Thinking Team”
The first step in building a culture of collaboration is to get really clear on one thing: identifying whom the individuals are that we need to be thinking with. Whether from within or outside of the organization, by surrounding ourselves with a thoughtful group that balances out our leadership style and skill sets – a group Katz & Miller call our “thinking team” – we can bring depth of wisdom to our companies.

Judging vs. Joining
Merely teaming up with the right group of people is not guaranteed to lead to collaboration. In fact we cannot effectively collaborate or be part of high performing teams if we cannot communicate with each other. Katz offers the view that we have a fundamental species choice to make: do we want to judge – an action that leads to defensiveness, frustration, and a shutting-down of the creative process – or do we want to join one another? To join together, the epitome of collaboration, is to look your team, your employees, yourself, in the eye and say, “yes, I trust you”.

One place we can begin to “join” is within our own organizations. Katz looks to the hiring process to explore this concept. Company hiring is an activity that requires a tremendous amount of resources as we vet candidates to join our team. Yet oftentimes, when we make the hire, we force the employee to go through a process of proving themselves, resulting in a culture of judging. If we want to start joining one another, we must create an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork within our organization. This all starts with the conversations we have with one another. Ask yourself: am I engaging with this person in a way that makes them feel big; feel valued? When we start from that place we set in motion the trust that’s necessary in order for high-performing teams to thrive.

The EILEEN FISHER Story
This methodology of developing thinking teams to co-create collaboration has been put into practice by Katz & Miller through their consulting firm, The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, in a number of organizations around the country, including at EILEEN FISHER, a mission-driven women’s apparel company. In attendance at the SVN conference to share her experience of how Katz & Miller’s work impacted the organization was Susan Schor, Chief Culture Officer at EILEEN FISHER. After first meeting 12 years prior at an SVN conference, the three partnered to develop their own thinking team. It is thanks to their work and the effectiveness of this process that EILEEN FISHER has experienced significant corporate structural changes which have led employees to feel a sense of ownership over the work and the company, while fostering a culture of collaboration, ultimately leading to overall company growth and development.

Collaboration begins with who you sit at the table with. Look around you and identify the people you need to be thinking with in order to foster collaboration and bring out the full potential of our greatest assets – ourselves.

The Harvest of BGI

Posted on: April 25th, 2013 by social venture network No Comments

Guest post by Alana Kambury, MBA ’14 Candidate from BGI and 2013 SVN Bridge Project scholarship recipient

If BGI were a crop, I would wish that the Social Venture Network would be the harvest in the years to come.

I arrived to San Diego unawares of the opportunity that was before my eyes. Once I grasped the caliber of the gathering, the calculating-self sunk in and the word intimidation only begins to explain how I felt. Regardless of the open nature, the familiar faces of Gifford and Libba, and the lapping shores along the sandy San Diego coastline, I didn’t think I belonged. Not yet at least.

Luckily I met Arthur, founder of Canogle, and a fellow SVN first timer who sensed these feelings simply in the tone of how I began to share my story and his words set the weekend straight. Arthur invigorated my confidence reminding me that it was no mistake that I was there, and when I made my farewells on Sunday, sleep deprived, humbled, and inspired I knew he was right.

What will it take to go from operating on project to project, sifting emails one by one, and planning the next season of goals and events, to thinking of a holistic systems change, and making the impact I hope to collaborate on and contribute to the world?

Michael Kieschnick provided one of the richest breakout sessions I enjoyed this weekend, as I listened to his subtle dry humor, egged on by Drummond Pike, to tell stories of courage, persistence, and innovation to how we gain attention to what is really important to us… And how to fund it. As Michael said, these efforts may not be balanced in life, but the experience will be rich with stories, laughter, struggle and even arrests from time to time. Michael here founded one of my favorite companies that I’ve been preaching for over the past 6 years: CREDO Mobile. Yeah, my cell-phone provider.

As a CREDO member since 2007, I have touted the company as a leader in customer service, clever marketing, and above all else a connector between the consumer to and greater set of values. Yet I learned that my perception of my favorite company was all wrong! I’ve always understood it as a phone service provider who is proactive in the causes that matter most to me, instead of how Michael properly framed it: An activist organization that is funded by it limb of mobile service revenues. So clever.

Here is the way we can take systems and turn them right side up so they work for us and not vise versa. While the industry of mobile phone service isn’t as obviously intertwined with the earth’s ecosystems like the built environment or agriculture, it is a huge funnel of capital, ingrained in our global culture, which can be redirected towards conserving natural resources, highlighting social issues, and curing political malignancies.

Even though I love the linear nature of excel and what I have gained from Teri & Bert’s teachings, I don’t write about capital budgeting this week because my heart and mind are trying to keep the bigger picture I gained from SVN’s 2013 Spring Conference in perspective this week. I think of Andrew’s hope and dream that we as a cohort, as a student body, and as a generation do something great with what has been given to us and where we’ve sought to find community. And for our advantage, it doesn’t hurt to surround ourselves with those that are great, influential, and more intelligent than us… even if we’re a shaking in our boots at little bit at first. My hope is that other BGIers and especially students in more traditional MBA schools get to experience what I did in San Diego, so that they know what it looks like if we plant our seeds with integrity, determination, and compassion. I was extremely grateful to have been able to come via the SVN Bridge Project scholarship that the members of SVN graciously donate towards, and I look forward to continuing to find ways to actively be a part of this community.

Once upon a time, an ex-boyfriend told me that my hopes to have a successful career in the world was just buying into the rat-race and selling out. “Really?” I thought. Working hard towards a career means I’m immediately accepting the cultural paradigm that I’ve criticized for so many years? Hmmm… because my gut disagrees. Besides knowing that we wouldn’t be dating much longer, I heard my unflinching disbelief that work and purpose and fun were exclusive from each other, and I gained my proof in San Diego. I am here to find those other people in this world that want to do great things; to redirect where things have gone astray, to illuminate what is to come, and to rally together, growing through the obstacles before us, all the while having fun along the way. Because life is too short not to have fun. Or take pride in your cell-phone carrier… Now if they could just get into internet service too.