Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Collaboration, like innovation, has been in danger to become another "empty" buzzword. You may ask, why I said "empty?" Aren't people collaborating now more than ever during this COVID-19 Pandemic? Thankfully, yes, we have been collaborating more than ever. There are still pockets of dissension, political powers that point fingers to the other party, and unfortunately civil unrest in many part of the US that started from irresponsible handling of George Floyd that resulted in his death. Just a few weeks prior, to this the public has been asking for justice for their loved ones who died, desiring to hold those in power accountable.
These are tough times, and I will choose at this point for not to take traditional sides. Right now, the only side worth taking is the side that bridges the gap - and that may not be the loudest side voicing out its stance right now.
As we learn to live together in this new world, I hope that talks of "going back to normal" will eventually cease and we hear more about how do we live in this new normal. Perhaps together, we, as a race and species will be pushed towards more authentic collaboration because it's the only way we can survive and thrive in this new world. Maybe it's time to focus more on what brings us together versus complaining or agonizing about the differences. Yes, we're all entitled to our own opinions - but isn't it time to just think of something bigger than standing our ground?
I've spent more than 12 years in Human Resources - and many job descriptions highlight "collaboration" as one of the competencies. That's great! We, human beings, know the value of collaboration in teams, and how leaders should foster collaboration - in theory. The reality however, is that many promotions and much of the big corporation's power dynamics are still skewed towards the individual star. Even school promotes the individual star. When can we begin to see that part of the root cause as to why collaboration is in danger of being another empty buzzword is our own society's need to "hero-ize" the solo performer? Now, this pandemic has forced us to live out collaboration in reality - reluctant heroes, our frontliners have to work together, sacrifice time with families to take care of other people's families. Food service workers working together to keep each other safe, managers sending their laid-off staff to Costco and paying for 3 months' worth of household goods and food. Why does it take a pandemic like COVID-19 to remind us the value of one another? As tragic as this pandemic is, the lessons are profound. Let's live up to the spirit of what true collaboration is - working together towards a better purpose.
As hopefulness gains momentum, why is it that the George Floyd homicide had to happen? I have colleagues in the NYPD, and I choose not to bring myself to take sides because I want to believe that there are peaceful protesters, but then the few disruptive ones stoke the fire of hate and anger and actions that endanger others. I want to believe that there are model NYPD officers who refuse to play the taunting and fear game, but may act in fear and in defense of the unruly and dangerous civilian behavior.
One thing I believe - those in power have the responsibility to protect the less powerful. If only many in law enforcement choose the path of dialogue like Michigan's Sheriff Chris Swanson. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/michigan-sheriff-chris-swanson-joins-george-floyd-protest-march/
If hatred and anger is a sign we're going back to the old normal - then we really should would hard to bring about a new normal. Let's elevate ourselves and turn this new normal into something better than the old normal.