Do you know which emotional states help you achieve peak performance?

How We Feel_Page_05

Introducing The Kingbridge Institute – Where we use the latest mind-brain-body science to create the ultimate learning environment.

Our work is focused on bringing the latest mind-brain-body science to executive skill development. We push the boundaries of inter-personal skills through the use of wearable technology to create an environment in which individuals and teams can learn about feelings. Real time brain-body mapping allows each participant to understand the effects their feelings and thoughts have on decision making. Seeing feelings as they unfold enables the next-level of collaboration in relationships and business.

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Connected but Alone?

I think we would all agree that technology and virtual communication through Skype, facebook, Linkedin, texting and other electronic devices has made it easier to conduct global business. It has also made it more convenient to stay connected and communicate across the world to our family and friends. Although virtual communication has become a necessity, nothing replaces human connection. Technology is not only changing what we do but who we are. It is shaping our modern relationships. As we expect more from technology do we expect less from each other?

For those times when we need to rely on virtual presence to conduct business it helps to have techniques that can stimulate better team dynamics, especially when the group is just getting to know each other. I would like to share a technique that we used at Kingbridge last year with a group of people from across North America tasked with coming together to engage in a brainstorming session.  We were unsuccessful finding a date to get everyone together in person so we decided to take advantage of our virtual communication options and connect via Skype. The owner of Kingbridge, John Abele and I were apprehensive at first of using Skype because many of the proposed working group didn’t know each other. We decided to try to create a social and relaxed atmosphere for conducting this meeting so our virtual guests would feel as included as possible among the physical group.  The result of these efforts was a virtual dinner engagement. We went so far as coordinating the menu, wine selection and how we wanted to decorate the tables with our virtual guests allowing us to share the same meal and feel like we were physically in one location. We even positioned the cameras and used larger sized monitors on both sides to create the illusion of each table virtually joining together.

The evening was a huge success. Not only did we engage in stimulating conversation and make new friends but we also were able to conduct our business objectives successfully. So, what I learned through this Skype interaction was by blending a social activity like dinner together with the business task we had to achieve it allowed a different dynamic to unfold particularly when the majority of us hadn’t met prior. The 2-hour event became playful and allowed us to connect quicker and be more creative and candid when we needed to share and critique ideas. At the end of the night we laughed because when it was time to say our goodbyes we all naturally stood up from our tables making the exchange feel similar to what we would have experienced if we were physically together. In that moment we all realized how enjoyable that virtual exchange had been and we had forgotten we were not in the same physical space.

If any of you have experiences to share where you were able to connect in a more meaningful way through a virtual medium to conduct business, please insert a post so we can learn from each other.

As a final thought I reference Sherry Turkle, founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology who poses some interesting questions for us to ponder regarding the increasing integration of virtual and physical communication today:

Are we redefining human connection and communication?
What types of new connections do we want to have?

Collaboration Stations

In a recent HBR article, Brad Power makes the point that face-time is still crucial in our increasingly disparate marketplace. He argues that although we don’t always work in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, making a habit of “face-to-face” work can really pay off.

With information accessible from everywhere, new co-working centres opening every day, and the near-constant publishing of articles touting the benefits of social business, the idea of collaboration is taking hold. There is, however, another disturbing trend starting to develop. With the proliferation of so-called “social tools” we have ended up substituting the truly “social” experience for a kind of pseudo-social virtual interaction.

All collaboration is great, but virtual collaboration seems to be missing something. There’s no room for nuance, or body-language, or intimacy, leaving virtual collaboration as a sort of hollow shell. When we can fill that shell with face-to-face time, even just a little, we strengthen the core of that collaboration. We should keep talking in the physical metaphor here because we can literally fill a room with opportunities to collaborate just by changing a few things about the room itself.

Imagine a place where you can bring the team – a place dedicated to team-building, ideation, and problem-solving – to work together in person. In comes the Collaboration Station – a real physical space which meets the needs of those collaborators. These people work together all the time, but if that work is only ever virtual, they may be seeing less-than-stellar collaboration results. Having a physical space dedicated to collaboration and innovation means everyone knows where to go to find help, and everyone knows what they’re supposed to do when they get there. 

A Collaboration Station could be filled with inspiring material to generate the best ideas. It could promote collaboration by it’s very design, as opposed to promoting hierarchies. You could have project and idea headquarters and the facility could become a permanent idea incubation and innovation centre for the company. Plus, building routine into collaboration helps the team adapt to the culture inside your Collaboration Station and they become better team players, more creative thinkers, and more loyal employees. Not bad for a side effect.

Social Media begets Collaboration

First, check out this Harvard Business Review article by John Seely Brown: Social Media Will Play a Crucial Role in the Reinvention of Business. Then, consider his arguments with a view to collaboration.

His basic point is that social media not only allows for, but promotes innovation by its very use. John claims that innovation, or any new idea really, comes from the outside in, because core competencies are foundational to the organization and are usually too stable to change. So his point then is that when we look for a new idea, we will have more luck if we search outside the organization.

Here’s where collaboration comes in. Social media allows for interaction between the “edges” and the internal workings of an organization, as well as between the organization and its environment. These points of contact allow for ideas to reach right into the centre of the organization and jump-start revolutionary changes. Social media increases these points of contact to the degree that newer, better ideas are constantly being shared and developed because you get more people volunteering ideas and more people vetting those ideas and therefore, more “good” ideas overall.

The informality of social media is its other huge asset. Because social media allows for such consistent interactions, pitching an idea, sharing your opinion and gathering support have been de-formalized. The consistency just makes it feel like a virtual conversation with a group of friends. Therefore, it’s much more likely that an idea makes it out of your head and into a discussion. Social media creates a perfect environment for like-minded people to meet and interact, share and develop their ideas, and find support for achieving their shared goals. Our interactions on Twitter start to sound like THE definition of collaboration.

Why should I care?

The ubiquitous nature of social media means it has stepped in as the primary opportunity for daily collaboration. Basically, if you’re not on some social media platform, you’re betting against the odds for finding collaborators. With the number of people using social media, and the nature of the beast, it presents itself as the ideal resource to meet a growing interest in, and need for, collaboration. Not only that, the way we use these social tools is a sign that our perspective on the value of collaboration has changed. Collaboration can be, and usually is, viewed as a tool to minimize a drain on resources. Instead, collaboration in social media is a resource in itself – one that allows us to move from sharing work-loads to creating shared value.