The ups and downs of business cycles impact the state of mind of nearly everyone within an enterprise. Anytime the economy, market, rivals or internal mismanagement poses some danger, a collaborative enterprise under siege could easily regress to collusion, conspiracy, conformity and cohesion. This would fail to protect the brand, win back customers, or attract essential talent when hiring again. The loss of genuine collaboration could put an enterprise into a downward spiral without the resourcefulness to pull itself out.
This outlook on collaboration gives me a picture of a socio-technical system. The state of mind that gets creative, compassionate, caring and capable of serving others' interests effectively is the system's core technology. The system crashes when these collaborative dynamics get disrupted by external turbulence. The failure to buffer the core and respond capably to the turbulence exposes deep flaws in the system design. Besides the obvious failures in the industry segment, customers' perceptions and job market, internal failures would multiply. I would expect to see:
- a loss of sustaining innovations, extensions of successful products and upgrades of services
- an inability to learn from what's occurring, get the message in all this feedback and change directions
- a series of leadership failures, bad decisions and flawed policy changes
- an excess of committee meetings, upbeat conferences and enforcement of positive attitudes
When collaboration is protected by a viable socio-technical system, this spiral of potential setbacks gets averted. The potential disaster gets foreseen and forestalled. The state of mind which supports genuine collaboration gets regarded as the "goose that lays the golden eggs". Leadership acts quickly to create safety, provide buffers from turbulence, protect essentials with added resources and nurture the collaborations that then come about.