In the previous article we defined the co-development method and explored how this process can help us avoid some cognitive biases like streetlight effect. In this article we’ll explore furthermore what’s in it for you: the benefits for the individuals and organizations.
Benefits for participants
According to my experience with co-development, each role in a co-development session (client, consultant, animator) develops a specific skill set, but there are several key leadership skills that all participants can develop.
For me, top 3 would be: active listening, questioning and refraining from judgment.
1/ We are living in a world that can’t stop talking and we all know how difficult it is to listen to other people without having our voice jumping in and pushing us to express our own ideas. It’s like we would explode if we don’t intervene when somebody speaks about things we think we know (better). The skill of active listening is practiced from the start of the co-development exercise. While the client is exposing the situation for 5 min chrono, the clients are listening attentively and writing down the important verbatims (in the same words). This writing action is very important as the consultants use those verbatims for reference when asking questions and giving different types of feedback.
2/ Some professions (doctors, judges, loyers) are trained to ask relevant questions because they get valuable information in order to be able to help the patient or the client. We all need this training as we often forget to ask BEFORE we give our own opinion. It’s like we already know everything. It’s like we lost all curiosity to learn something new. In co-development, consultants ask one after another different kinds of open questions in order to understand the client’s situation and lighten up the areas beyond “the streetlight” the client is fixed on. Participants are often surprised when I ask them to go ahead and ask questions for 15 min: they need some time to adapt and find them. Clients are often frustrated by not being able to answer right away some of the questions.
3/ Refraining from judgement is happening all along the co-development session. Generally speaking, refraining oneself is the principle of the co-development process. Participants need to refrain from reacting, talking, analysing, giving their opinion, proposing or suggesting too soon. There is time for everything. They need to follow the structured and restrainable process which guides them to the final debate when they can finally express their opinions. Even during the debate, we remind the consultants that we’re not looking to agree with each other. There is no place for “my idea is better than yours”. On the contrary, we’re seeking more of what Ray Dalio calls “the thoughtful disagreement” and we’re leaving the decision to the clients to pick up what’s relevant to them in specific situations.
To sum up, the participants need to do « the work required to have an opinion ».
Benefits for the organization
There are multiple benefits for the organization, my top 3 are: improvement in relationships quality, a culture of solidarity and collaboration enhancement, cross departmental connection and understanding.
1/ Co-development develops the relationships quality by teaching participants how to build more meaningful relationships through respecting other people’s world views and differences… It prevents conflicts and tensions by communicating our own emotions, needs and objectives to others. It helps channeling individual and sometimes collective frustrations by expressing and exploring them. Therefore, co-development is improving both the individual and collective performances.
2/ By participating in a co-development group, participants are experiencing the magic of giving and receiving help. They realize how isolated they’ve felt, and how much benevolence and collaboration they can get within the company. They realize that they’re not alone in the company, that other people have different approaches to the similar situations and that we can learn a lot together and from others.
3/ Finally co-development group contributes to cross departmental connection and understanding. It helps preventing or limiting phenomenons of silos that are so difficult to deconstruct. Open space and presenteeism cannot do much for it! The principle of confidentiality supports the participants’ openness and transparency. It’s a place where you can actually learn more about other people’s projects, achievements, objectives, missions, struggles and get involved in finding innovative solutions.
We are all wired for connection so let’s learn together and from each other
We are all different, but we have all some common, universal needs. One of the most important ones is that we’re all wired for connection.
We often suffer in the workplace, because we crave to be listened to, questioned, to have meaningful relationships. We feel blocked by the rapidity, the pressure we put on ourselves, the multitasking, the conflicts, our egos and never-ending internal and external competition.
Maybe, as this sanitary crisis is teaching us, it’s time to realize that we need to learn to slow down before it’s too late? Maybe it’s time to learn to think collectively in order to act collaboratively for better and more sustainable performance. Yes, we’re so much smarter together, so let’s learn together with co-development!