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Weave a Flawless Fabric of Cooperation

Jan 2, 2008
An individual can only accomplish so much. No single person, no matter how well made up and dressed, will look as interesting and beautiful as a group of people performing a lovely dance. The same lesson is true for organizations that want to create ideal results for all involved. They need to act as one, but gain the benefit of combining the efforts of many in nearly flawless ways.

Clearly, few will think that perfect performances are possible, but near perfection occurs all the time. In this article, let's look at the lessons of how to conduct yourself to gain near perfection for organizations. This is a critical element of creating breakthrough solutions.

There are eight steps for creating a breakthrough solution (accomplishing 20 times more with the same time, effort, and resources). This article looks at becoming more effective in step five (identifying the future best practice -- the best anyone can possibly do in the next five years) when working with an organization.

Combine Elements of Similar Organizational Ideal Best Practices to Create New Ways of Operating

If one ideal practice is powerful, imagine the impact of combining insights from more than one such ideal practice. Here's an example: Opera companies perform complex pieces with amazing coordination and few errors. Marching bands move forward with impressive precision in keeping the same time and foot in front of them.

The principle behind both kinds of successful coordination is that these groups have practiced until they can do what is required very easily and receive a signal (from a conductor or a drum major) that provides time and motion coordination. During practices, the signal giver tells people when they make mistakes and repeats those sequences until they are done correctly.

Now let's apply that principle. Let's say that you want to launch a new product with a complex series of marketing and sales efforts.

How might you create such a result? You need to start by playing the roles that the musical composer and choreographers do in writing down everything that needs to be done in the right order. That overall plan is like the score a conductor will use to coordinate everyone.

The plan should include the speed, timing, and location of what needs to be done. Then the parts need to be copied out so that people know their roles and have instructions to follow. Finally, you need to practice the execution of that plan until it comes easily and perfectly.

By comparison, most organizations don't prepare such plans, have no practices, provide no feedback to those who make mistakes so they can improve, and don't have anyone playing the role of sending a central signal. Is it any wonder these organizations don't coordinate their new product launches very well?

Combine Perspectives from Dissimilar Organizational Ideal Best Practice Principles in New Ways

The potential for combining ideal practices is improved if you consider places where two or more ideal group practices are based on different principles that could be combined to create a breakthrough for your organization.

Here's an example to help you understand this process: Improv comedy groups create spontaneous humor. No one knows exactly who or what someone will say or do next.

The process works because the improv group practices a lot and learns to closely observe what one another is doing so they smoothly adjust to each other. Air freight services rarely fail to deliver material that is entrusted to them. That's true both because air freight workers understand the importance of the shipments (they are often customers, too) and roles are clearly defined in ways that reduce the risk of shipments being lost.

Let's combine and apply these two principles. Assume that you want your organization to develop more flexibility by ensuring that each department learns how to do at least one other department's job. In that way, if part of the organization is out for a day, work proceeds smoothly.

Using the improv group example, you might give departments the opportunity to choose what other jobs they learn. Only if some jobs were not going to be learned would you need to make assignments. To ensure that the learning takes place, you could set practice times when each department spends half the session helping someone else learn and the other half learning.

To ensure that coordination did not break down, you could ask those who have supervision over the jobs to write out steps for the tasks so that the substitute department would not forget an important step.

To make that forgetfulness even less likely, you should schedule some time where each substitute spends a day on the receiving end of the work in order to appreciate what it's like to rely on what's done.

Naturally, if you can combine three principles, that's even better. And combining four principles is better still.

How might you do that?

Start by developing a list of at least 50 examples of where groups routinely perform near perfection. Then, look for the principles behind each of those examples. Finally, begin combining the principles in new ways.

Your breakthrough awaits your imaginative combination of cooperative principles!
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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