There is no doubt that we are living in a world of an accelerated pace of change and disruptive technologies that will continue to impact traditional business models, not only in services but also in the entire industrial sectors and value chain.

Many organizations we work with recognize the need to promote culture change, to adapt and develop agility and flexibility in the face of the uncertainty and volatility of the external environments. Many recognize that people, not capital assets are the critical resource in this new environment and in the past weeks the word I have heard most often in very diverse organizations when talking about their culture is the need to encourage “cooperation”, which almost always followed by “transversally”.

What do we mean by cooperation? The Oxford dictionary defines cooperation as: “The action or process of working together to the same end”

When you look at how results are produced in an organization, cooperation happens all the time: very little gets accomplished by single contributors.

Why do we find this urge to foster cooperation? What does it tell us about the current conditions in an organization, where “cooperate transversally” is seen as a missing behavior or skill?

There may not be a simple, single response to the questions above; however, as a leader driving accountability for the culture in your organization, asking yourself the following questions can be useful if you find yourself in need of a culture change:

  • Do we have a clear intention about what we mean by cooperation, for our organization?
  • Is our intention explicit and actionable?
  • Are we aligned as a leadership team behind this intention and how it will demonstrate itself, in action?
  • What barriers and successful ways of working in the past, will we need to overcome, or overturn?
  • Do we encourage diversity of thinking?
  • What practices are now obsolete, and what new practices are needed for cooperation to be alive, including rewards and recognition?
  • What decision rights must we reconsider, to empower our teams at the right level?
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