As we discuss the future of work, of how we do in-person, remote and hybrid it is critical to think about how modern knowledge work is highly networked and collaborative and benefits from social serendipity through social networks and access to people with complementary expertise. Value is often created in an ecosystemic way and through social networks, and as we determine new ways of working it is important to consider how we will allow social serendipity while at the same time creating flexibility.
Frequent, informal, spontaneous interactions in collocated work environments enable cohesive relationships and increases social awareness. There are four major types of collaboration that stem from social serendipity:
Sharing ideas freely with others for the advancement of the organization
Free exchange of ideas
Working with less experienced colleagues to encourage and support development
Disseminating knowledge and vision
Working with others to solve problems and improve performance
As we evaluate our organizations, build and sustain teams, we should be looking for ways to enhance the ability to have social serendipity, enshrining this as part of our team norms.
Join the ASQ Team and Workplace Excellence Forum on Tuesday, June 15 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, for ASQ Storytime, a fun story share where you are invited to share your stories as a quality professional. Stories may either be free-style or in PechaKucha style on the themes of “Driving out Fear” or “Quality Life After the Pandemic.”
Teams exist to execute to organization objectives. In order to meet these objectives, a team needs a vision of itself. There are eight major elements to a team’s vision:
Consistency with organizational objectives: The team vision should be aligned with and derive from the organization’s overall purpose and strategy. Teams are sub-elements in a wider organization structure and their success will be judged on the extent to which they make valuable contributions to the overall purpose of the organization. In some circumstances a team may decide that it is important for its own values, purposes and orientations to act as a minority group which aims to bring about change in organization objectives – perhaps like a red team.
Receiver needs: Teams focus on providing excellence in service to its customers, whether internal or external.
Quality of work: A major emphasis within organizations is the quality of work. The relationship between quality and other functions like efficiency is important.
Value to the wider organization: Understanding the importance of the team just not for the wider organization but beyond, leads to team cohesion and greater team effectiveness. Team members need a clear perception of the purposes of their work.
Team-climate relationships: Team climate refers to aspects such as the warmth, humor, amount of conflict, mutual support, sharing, backbiting, emphasis on status, participation, information sharing, level of criticism of each other’s work and support for new ideas.
Growth and well-being of team members: Growth, skill development and challenge are central elements of work life and teams can be a major source of support. Teams provide opportunities for skill sharing and support for new training. Teams need to be concerned for the well-being of its members, including things like burnout.
Relationships with other teams and departments in the organization: Teams rarely operate in isolation. They interact with other team and departments within the organization. Teams must be committed to working effectively and supporting other teams. Avoid silo thinking.
There are a few principles to make this team collaboration work.
Clear purpose: What is the reason for the collaboration? What’s the business case or business need? Without alignment on the purpose and its underlying importance to the organization, the collaboration will fail. The scope will start to change, or other priorities will take precedence.
Clear process: How will the collaboration take place? What are the steps? What is the timing? Who is responsible for what?
Clear expectations: What is the specific goal or outcome we are striving for through this collaboration?
Clear support: Problems will arise that the team cannot handle on their own. In those cases, what is the escalation process, including who and when?
As we move through of careers we all have endless incidents that can either be denied and suppressed or acknowledged and framed as “falls,” “failures,” or “mistakes.” These so-called falls all enhance our professional growth. By focusing on the process of falling, and then rising back up, we are able to have a greater understanding of the choices we have made, and the consequences of our choices.
Sharing and bearing witness to stories of failure from our professional and personal lives provide opportunities for us to explore and get closer to the underlying meaning of our work, our questions of what is it that we are trying to accomplish in our work as quality professionals. Our missteps allow us to identify paths we needed to take or create new stories and new pathways to emerge within the context of our work. As we share stories of tensions, struggles, and falling down, we realized how important these experiences are in the process of learning, of crafting one’s presence as a human being among human beings, of becoming a quality professional.
We may not have asked for a journey of struggle when we decided to become quality professionals, but the process of becoming tacitly involves struggle and difficulty. There is a clear pattern among individuals who demonstrate the ability to rise strong pain and adversity in that they are able to describe their experiences, and lay meaning to it.
It is important to recognize that simply recognizing and affirming struggle, or that something is not going as it should, does not necessarily lead to productive change. To make a change and to work towards a culture of excellence we must recognize that emotions and feelings are in the game. Learning to lead is an emotionally-laden process. And early-stage professionals feel exceptionally vulnerable within this process. This field requires early-stage professionals to hone their interpersonal, technical, and organizational skills, all while turning their gaze inward to understanding how their positioning in the organization impacts can be utilized for change. Novice professionals often struggle in terms of communicating ideas orally or in writing, being able to manage multiple tasks at once, staying on top of their technical content, or even thinking critically about who they are in the broader world. Early-stage professionals are always on the brink of vulnerability.