Collaboration Begins With You

Get Busting!

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

As an avid gardener whenever I drive around neighborhoods I scope out the landscape in yards. It’s interesting to see the variety of styles, textures, and lack thereof. It amazes me when I see lines of beautiful homes on a street and invariably there are a few with minimal landscaping – like maybe a tree (dead) or two. There’s no cohesiveness between the landscape and home. The scene is disjointed. Now, I get that a lot of people don’t like to garden or feel that it’s a lot of work. However, any appraiser or real estate agent will tell you that a well planed and planted landscape can increase the value of a home by 10-15%. The home and landscape work together as a team – collaboration at its finest.

Fall is a great time to be outside. The heat and humidly of summer is gone and in many parts of the country the colors are incredible. Wander around your yard a bit with a new set of eyes. Imagine that you are a buyer looking to buy your house. What do you see? Is there a seamless collaboration between the style of your home and the landscape? Do your gardens, even if minimal, blend and flow with your home? The neighborhood? Does your house reflect your taste and the yard? Does the landscape support and enhance your home? If not, winter is coming and it is the perfect time to get busy on paper and plan some changes for next year.

Think how your home and landscape can complement one another. How can they better collaborate together to reflect your taste or that of your neighborhood? Pick up some books or magazines from the library for ideas. Landscapers are typically slow in the cold months and most will happily assist you with planning, often at reasonable prices. Ask your garden friends for their thoughts and ideas. In short, collaborate to make change and enhance your yard.

Collaboration is key in many areas of our lives. We see it in our gardens, neighborhoods, relationships, and our jobs. Take some time this week to take notice of how collaboration is all around us, or not. I’m guessing that many of us love the idea of collaboration, but see it lacking where we work. The concept is great in theory but tough to carry out in most organizations. There are often too many individual agendas or a focus on who contributes the most and can climb the ladder the quickest. Some companies reward these behaviors through their reward system or management style. Guess what? Collaboration begins with you! We can’t count on our employers to create collaboration; we need to step up as individuals.

I just finished the new book Collaboration Begins With You Be A Silo Buster by Ken Blanchard, Jane Ripley, and Eunice Parisi-Carew. In the usual Blanchard style this book is written in a story format which makes it an easy and memorable read. This book is perfect for anyone. It’s a reminder that we all have a responsibility to create and promote a special culture of collaboration in everything we do. We can’t rely on our employers to do this. We all need to take the leap to act in order to have an impact. Individually we can bring people together with our own style to make a difference and produce results.

I love the simplistic and memorable process the authors introduce to bust silos and bring people together. It’s easy and a 3 prong approach: The heart, the head, and the hands.

·         The Heart: This is who you are as a person and leader. It involves your character and intentions. It makes sense doesn’t it? You bring the inside out and impact others. We all do this every day. We show our love to our family. We nurture safety and trust.
·         The Head: This is what you know. It’s your knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes particularly about collaboration. This is where you involve others to create a clear purpose with sound values and goals.
·         The Hands: This is what you do. It’s your actions and behaviors. It’s what you do to empower others and build collaboration. Empowerment begins with you before it can be given to others. This is where you talk with others to build consensus.

Clearly none of these “parts” can function without the other. You need your heart, head, and hands to bring about change and build collaboration with others. Collaboration Begins with You effectively leads us down the path of collaboration with a variety of interesting characters. We see their insecurities and struggles. We earn how they change inside and effectively reflect that change onto others. We quickly see how the efforts of the whole are greater than the one. We see growth that brings about a collaborative culture, empowers others, uses differences to share a vision, and turns everyone into an empowered leader. Collaboration truly starts from within and emerges to destroy silos and build consensus.

Blanchard’s new book is well worth the reading journey. You will learn about yourself and others as you learn how to better collaborate. The book is an easy journey and offers a collaboration self assessment and best practices to lead you down the path. Stop bemoaning silos and begin change with a first step towards collaboration. 

Please get that landscape in shape next spring too! You never know who will be driving by………