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The New How by Nilofer Merchant

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Chapter 8. Collaborating to Win

Hell, there are no rules here, we are trying to accomplish something.

Thomas Edison

What Makes It Work Inside the Corporation Context

Every one of us who has spent time in the workforce has participated in co-creating how business works today. Some of our contributions have been positive, and others have been negative. Sound harsh? Perhaps. But I’m not trying to pick on anyone. (Think back on the stories from my own experience, and you can understand how that is true for me.) The point is not to judge, but to illustrate a point.

Every time an executive asked for participation (“Any questions?”) and we stared at a crack in the ceiling rather than taking on some issue that we were conscious of, we let the culture of poor strategy creation continue. Every time we cut out relevant raw data or sugarcoated the “issues slide” as we passed content to our manager, director, VP, or GM, we let it happen. Whenever we allotted a key issue insufficient time on a meeting agenda, we let it happen.

Our legacy of hierarchical structures and decision making has outlasted its value, and in doing so has encouraged a culture of failed strategies. For us to change, we need to change the rules. Part I of this book described how we can promote an inclusive culture of participation in which each of us steps up and the leaders move from being Chiefs of Answers to being cultivators of involvement. We also talked about the need to challenge, debate, and create new options that ...

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