“Great groups think they are on a mission from God”
writes Warren Bennis in his 1997 study of collaborative groups “Organizing Genius”
“Great groups are filled with believers, not doubters… and often have the zeal of converts” he goes on.
This is a strength of the collaborative group. It firmly believes in what it is doing and what it can achieve.
And yet there is an almost mocking tone within the statement. Having read the book I know that it is not Bennis’s intent to mock, but this evangelistic determination is often portrayed in such a way.
I think there is a distinction that helps.
When the fervour is for the collaborative process itself then it can be misplaced. Organisations indulge in ill-fitting and ill advised collaborative projects for the sake of collaborating.
When the fervour though is for the thing that is being collaborated upon, the creation of product, process or settlement, then that commitment is an immense strength that will cement the collaboration through setbacks and challenges.
Is there room for collaborative evangelism? Absolutely and in both terms.
Even in the former, the collaborative argument will challenge the assumption that otherwise conventional patterns of contractual relationship, competitive jousting or zero sum arguments is the only way forward. Just don’t be blind in walking into it.