I attended two Back-to-School nights this week, one at a high school and the other at a middle school where I live. It’s going to be an exciting year for the students at these schools. Our educators used Back-to-School Night to kick off the school year with a strong emphasis on a welcome theme: “Solo is out, collaboration is in.”
I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. It's always struck me as somewhat ironic how the focus of my education, from elementary school through undergraduate college, was on solo achievements. It wasn’t until I had attended graduate school that the focus had changed to collaboration. If success in the business world relied so heavily on collaboration, I wondered, why didn’t our schools teach us to work together at an earlier age?
Welcome to 2010. I learned last night in Ms. Brown’s 8th grade Honors English class there are no “lone rangers” anymore. Everyone is invested in the success of each other. The way to this success, she said, was to start by observing three simple rules posted on the board:
1. Be an active listener.
2. Use effective communication skills.
3. Show respect and tolerance for others.
Now, imagine your workplace. Think of how easy and effective collaboration would be if every employee observed these three simple rules. There would be no “lone rangers”. Co-workers would be invested in the success of the entire organization and each other. Ideas would flow freely, productivity would rise, and so on.
Our schools are on the right track and, thanks to their emphasis on collaboration, our collective future is bright. As Henry Ford once observed, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”