Viewpoint | Teamwork: Dealing With Differences

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Collaborating with others isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

In our business, collaboration is a way of life. Because our goals are essentially the same, shop owners need to work with the insurance carrier and their rep, the adjuster, and we have to work with the rental company, suppliers and so on. These people may not always be helpful, or competent or charming, but work with them we must. For the adjuster, he or she may find the shop difficult because of scheduling and so on. To stay happy in business we have no choice but to join forces.

Real life has taught me that even though the “team” may not always be on the same page, it is a fact of life that we absolutely must work together no matter what. I was very interested to learn that a book on this topic had just been published in mid June and I just got my copy.

A new approach

I was delighted to learn that Collaborating with the Enemy – How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust was written by a Montreal-based author and consultant, Adam Kahane. Kahane is a Director of Reos Partners consultants and has worked round the world for many large companies including Shell, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the OECD and has a relationship with several Canadian universities.

While I have only started reading this fascinating book, I am hooked already. According to Kahane, often, to get something done that really matters to us, we need to work with people we don’t agree with or like or trust. Kahane has faced this challenge many times, working on big issues like democracy and jobs and climate change, as well as everyday issues in organizations and families.

He has learned that our conventional understanding of collaboration—that it requires a harmonious team that agrees on where it’s going, how it’s going to get there, and who needs to do what—is wrong. Instead, we need a new approach to collaboration that embraces discord, experimentation, and genuine co-creation.

Here’s what Kahane says about what you may have uttered once or twice—I could never work with those people!

A daunting challenge

“Such situations present us with a daunting challenge. We see these other people’s values, interests, and behaviours as different from ours; we believe they are wrong, irrational, or bad; we feel frustrated, upset, or angry. We think of them as opponents or— although we might not admit it—as enemies. Although we know we have to work with them, we wish we didn’t.”

Great insight. I’m looking forward to digging into the book and learning a thing or two about optimizing my industry interactions to achieve positive solutions under even the most trying circumstances. Sound familiar? Perhaps you should pick up a copy, too. If you read yours, I’ll read mine and we’ll discuss it in the next issue.

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