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Human Resources
May 12, 2017

The Importance Of Collaboration To Business Success

Sponsored Content provided by Dave Hoff - Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP of Leadership Development, EASI Consult

In January 2015, I wrote an Insights article titled, “How Highly Does Your Organization Value Collaboration?”. 

I also wrote about the topic of collaboration as part of a series of columns for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal about the nine dimensions of learning agility. In my August 2016 series installation, I focused on the dimension of Collaborating.

EASI•Consult®’s work in learning agility is, in part, due to a long-standing collegial relationship I have had with Dr. Warner Burke. Six years ago, Dr. Burke, Organizational Leadership instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University (my alma mater), began focusing his research on learning agility. 

He defines learning agility as the ability to deal with unfamiliar experiences by trying new behaviors, getting feedback on those attempts and making quick adjustments - all so new learning will be realized in those instances when you do not know exactly what to do. Dr. Burke also incorporates the roles of skill and motivation in learning agility.

More simply put, skill is a question of Can you do it? Motivation, then, is Do you want to do it?

When I wrote the column on collaboration two years ago, EASI•Consult® had not yet introduced a test that could measure learning agility and collaboration. When I wrote the article last summer on Collaborating, we had just recenly completed the self-report version of the Burke Learning Agility Inventory. 

There was some concern at the time that test-takers would just rate themselves very highly, and the test therefore would not be worthwhile. Nearly a year and a half later, the data we have indicates that concern was unfounded. 

According to the data, there is a normal distribution of test-takers - from people scoring very low to those with very high scores, and everything in-between. This is what researchers hope they will find. We knew that ultimately, we wanted to create a 360 version of the questionnaire, and we have just released that version. 

With the 360 version, individuals still take the test… but their co-workers and colleagues complete a test on them, as well. This gives the person being measured a view of how he sees himself and how others see him, from several perspectives. 

I recently worked with a senior manager who completed the Burke LAI, as did his supervisor. His rating of himself for the overall test and each of the nine learning agility dimensions was very high (above the 90th percentile). His supervisor’s rating for some of the dimensions was as high as that senior manager’s own rating, but the supervisor’s overall score was moderate and the score given for Collaborating was very low.

So, how do you reconcile these different views?

I think both views were accurate. I think it came down to two other elements of learning agility - skill and motivation. The senior manager answered the questionnaire based on whether he had the skill or capability. From his perspective, there was no question - he had the skills to collaborate. The feedback from his supervisor was that there were times when he should have been collaborating with others but the supervisor just didn’t see it. So, if the supervisor can’t see it, he or she doesn’t know if it is a capability or not. 

As EASI•Consult® continues to work in the area of learning agility, we continue to learn and be able to offer additional insights to our customers. In the above example, if we had just used the self-version of the Burke LAI, we would have gotten a picture of someone who was very capable in all nine areas of learning agility. 

By also surveying his supervisor using the Burke 360, we flushed out the fact that although he is fully capable, he may not choose to use that capability and collaborate with others. 

The person in my example is very important to the organization for which he works and is crucial to leading it where it needs to go in the future. The organization values collaboration, so how do they get it from everyone all the time? The Burke 360 provides opportunities to answer that question and find solutions by revealing a wider spectrum of perspectives.

EASI•Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI•Consult’s specialties include leadership assessment, online pre-employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI•Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email [email protected] or call (800) 922-EASI.
 

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