Better collaboration means better business by

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The tale of business has traditionally been one that evokes certain concepts to mind and generally disregards others. A firm handshake, mutual benefit, a profit to be made, a black top hat (for some reason) – these are all iconic images evoked when the concept of business comes to mind. And let’s not forget the very first thing off of most people’s tongues: competition.

This notion seems to hold true to the modern mind, in a steadfast, not-so-sure-about-change kind of way. However, to truly keep ahead of the curve, stay innovative, and not fall behind, one of the most important principles to bear in mind is the concept of paradigms and their ripple effect on the world of business. Business not only sets, creates, and maintains trends, it must also flex with them. So while some people are deeply uncomfortable with the continual flux of new ideas and concepts, others find the challenge invigorating – keeping their minds and margins ever flexible and ready for the next big thing.

Paradigms are the thing

So how do we square Collaboration – a catchphrase that’s seeing more and more of the limelight for good reasons, as we’ll discuss shortly – against Competition, that premier foundation of traditional business ethos? At first glance, they really do seem to be two peaks on very different mountains. But let’s look closer, peel away some of the more obvious facade and get into some down-to-business practicals.

Companies are comprised of people, so it holds that our understanding of human behaviour and motivation follow into examinations and reflections of the business world. There’s a reason that this understanding is considered research and is so very, very well-funded – it’s hard to be profitable when you’re operating off of false premises or personal biases when defining your five year marketing plans.

To stay ahead, we at Mitel are embracing the latest research that very nearly upends the past paradigms of human behavior, motivation, and even the profit motive itself. Big words, right? Let’s back them up:

In 2010, RSA Animate released a video  (watch the video if you get a chance) detailing some rather amazing findings. At first look, the presentation seemed too unbelievable, too against-the-grain to be believable. It stood in total contrast to the vaunted Common Sense that rules so many of our lives. The science is always neutral, and it is now telling us that we need to call into question so much that we not only have taken for granted, but some serious issues we’ve actually built systems on. Yes, including our businesses.

We’ve always thought that incentive equals productivity and ingenuity. That top rewards generate the best performance. Makes perfect, sound sense, right? Well, their findings led to the conclusion that once a task moves even an inch beyond rudimentary cognitive skill, the application of incentives actually hinder and detract from performance.

In case anyone is getting left-wing goosebumps at hearing this, be assured this data was tested by the world’s top-tier economists, psychologists, and analysts from MIT, University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon – the initial studies were sponsored by the US Federal Reserve. So in all, this research comes from sources about as mainstream as it gets.

How does this compute? It’s absurdly simple, actually. Rather than a carrot and a stick, skilled labour that calls for creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and evolutionary thinking calls for autonomy and a sense of self-mastery as motivators. Which in that light makes perfect sense, because that’s what people fundamentally want. People want to be comfortable financially, yes, but just as much, and perhaps more, people want to be treated as people, have a sense of purpose and contribution in their daily lives and their daily work.

The trends continue and the science is hard: the profit motive paradigm must bend and lend its ground to the purpose motive, and companies that stand by tradition are going to fall behind and be out-competed at near every level. There is a world of collaboration out there and unforeseen opportunities arising. We have to reach them together.

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