Posted by: kevinliebl | June 19, 2011

The Value of Collaboration

teamworkThis past week, I got into a discussion with a colleague about the differences between collaborative and dictatorial management styles.   I have had managers who were at both ends of the spectrum and also some who were in the middle.  I once worked for a CEO who’s favorite line was, “Everyone has the right to their own opinion, no matter how wrong it might be.  Now go do what I asked you to do.”  While it made everyone laugh, he clearly wasn’t interested in anyone’s input.  He simply wanted to direct and have blind followers.  There are certainly case studies where this has worked well.  However, brilliant managers who have all the answers are few and far between.  Additionally, building a company of “lemmings” who are not allowed to have vision or any form of opinion isn’t the recipe for a successful business.

I have always been a manager who has worked hard to create collaboration and alignment.  I’ve found that allowing teams to gel and share opinions has always worked well.  I like to build a staff of smart people who are experts in their specialty and then facilitate success.

This philosophy is even more important today when we have virtual teams.  It is rare that members of teams work in the same office or even in the same state.  In many cases they live in various countries.  The rich diversity of skills, education, experience and culture bring different perspectives to the team.  Everyone brings a unique set of ideas.  The combination of thoughts can create new ideas that bring tremendous competitive advantage.

The management skill that needs to be developed is the ability to “orchestrate” the noise to create music rather than conflict and chaos.  Many managers feel threatened by teams who offer new ideas or constructive feedback.  It is important to remember that the rich resource within the team is what creates the strongest solutions.  One must be willing to accept input from the team and then coordinate that input into a unified solution.

While not an actual business case study, I would like to share a video that illustrates the concept of collaborating diversity extremely well.  As a Rolling Stones fan, Gimme Shelter is one of my favorite songs.  I would never have thought that the collaboration of artists from around the world would have “crowdsourced” a version of the song that rivals the original.  However, this video brilliantly demonstrates the value of unique approaches to the same problem and the resulting solution being as good, or possibly better than a true classic.  Enjoy…


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  1. Nice article Kevin, wish all managers had your insight. Proper teamwork and management allows for the sum of the parts to become greater as a whole which was reflected in the recent NBA Finals. Jason Kidd was able to facilitate the offense to put unselfish teammates in successful positions based on their strengths. Business is no different, keep dropping dimes (assists)! Cheers.

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