October 17

Collaboration Doesn’t Happen Easily | WT #24


Creating new habits takes time, even when you know it is a good idea.

A while back we bought a new Honda minivan that came with a “cool box” to keep items refrigerated when traveling. A year later, we noticed that we finally had the hang of intentionally using it during our trip to Canada from Texas. When we first started using the van, we would either forget to use the cool box or bring a traditional cooler — all out of an old habit.

The challenge is the same for many of us in creating new collaborative habits. Expecting collaborative behavior to “just happen” isn’t fair on those involved.  

It’s not unlike the time it takes to steer a giant ship, and we are more like giant ships than we may wish to admit. It takes time (a year or more) and you have to measure progress by capturing stories of how things used to be and how they are today in order to jog team members’ memories. You have to jog memories for team members to recognize progress.

Glacial movement of behavior change over a year or more is hard for people to remember. We have to anticipate this phenomena and measure to keep moving collaboration forward and sustain it.

About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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