That word is so golden-clad in business. The thing we strive for. The thing we each claim to do well. The nature and character of a project, company, environment that we so covet. We idolize companies like Google or IDEO where collaboration seems to be the center of all things great, and our perception that they’ve got a wide open forum, a free exchange of ideas, and individuals completely empowered to bring them to life.
We rebel against too much structure, too many rules, too many limitations. We eschew the idea that we need to be told where to go or how to get there. We are determined to have our voices heard, and to bask in the notion that through collaboration, our work can have merit, too.
But if we go far in the direction of collaborating about and around everything, giving everyone a voice and a vote, making all decisions collective, we risk the worst thing that can happen to any goal and progress toward it:
Lack of clarity.
Sometimes, we need a leader to stand up, take charge, and help us aim our ship at the right destination. We need clarity of purpose and direction that doesn’t always come from us. We need rules and guidelines to help us be our best and most creative while understanding where the boundaries are. And sometimes, we need to just do something ourselves, huddled in our little corner, in order to get it done.
The web has given us unprecedented abilities to express ourselves, to share our ideas, to weigh in on the ideas of others. And so as humans, we’ve come to expect that collaboration and contribution is something we’re entitled to when we enter the business world. We demand that our ideas be heard, that we get a say in decisions and direction, that we blaze the trails and make the rules instead of just having others lay them out before us.
But that’s not always practical. It lends itself to disorganization, even chaos. To easily bruised egos, to liberties run amok, to meandering paths and rabbit holes that aren’t doing anything to help the larger goals at hand. Ultimately, you can end up with a lot of ideas, even more opinions, and zero direction.
We know this, right? Camels being horses designed by committee and all of that.
But here’s the rub:
We believe there can indeed be too many cooks. But rarely are we willing to accept that we might be the one crowding the kitchen.
image credit: qmnonic