Category Archives: Collaboration

Girl Code – women soaring together

Book review of Girl Code, by Cara Alwill Leyba.
This wasn’t the book I was expecting – there are a couple of books with the same title about girl coders. This is more about the secret of girls’ clubs. What it does very well is highlight the benefits of being part of a network.  One example is Chooks South Australia – a network that aims to address the gender differentials in investment in start ups and social enterprises (Search for ‘Chooks SA’ on Facebook).

The main chapters of the Girl Code book tease out what is a bit different about women in business and how we can support and encourage each other, especially when dealing with the ‘confidence cringe’ that many women have. The format is short interviews with successful American women and their philosophies and lessons.

In summary:
What women need more of:
Connection and Contribution. We all love to be needed so we each succeed when we help others succeed.
Plus, the Confidence to be who we are. It’s actually harder covering up our quirkiness in order to fit in. Groups can be a safe space to test and confirm that we are okay just as we are.

What women need less of:
Insecurity.  No one who is great now, was great when they started.
Excuses. too old, too young, too much this, not enough that.  Do what you can now.  It’s only discomfort, you won’t die if they say no, so get on with it.
Cattiness and envy.  We can have what others are having, we just have to work hard and consistently for it.
Fear.  We fear that we won’t be able to cope but we can, we are women!

My new take on the Helen Ready Anthem:

We are women, watch us soar, in a flock that’s too big to ignore!

SSI – Showcasing how community sector partnerships can work

A corporate colleague once commented that he was surprised how competitive the not-for-profit sector was. “You guys are even more cut-throat than the retail sector – you treat everyone as your competition for the fundraising dollar.”
And he was right. But organisations such as United Way and Settlement Services International (SSI), under the leadership of Violet Roumeliotis, are showing the sector how collaboration and partnership can really work.
Next week, if you haven’t got a Melbourne Cup event to get to, head over to Bankstown Auditorium to hear about the NSW Settlement Partnership – 23 organisations working proactively together to provide community settlement services.

To find out details and RSVP through Eventbrite – Click here.

Questions that keep me up at night:
What are the business practices that encourage enterprises to grow?
How/can we breakdown bureaucracies – where the people exist to serve the system / their manager, not the customer?
Is more growth always better?

In today’s webinar at the Starting Good Virtual Summit, Kari Enge, founder of Rank&File Magazine told us a salutary tale about how a focus on dollars and efficiency can kill a people-focused culture in less than six months. To avoid this, she says it’s crucial at an early stage for entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs, “to decide their leadership philosophy … and imagine their perfect culture”.

So who is already doing this well?

We have good role models in a number of tech enterprises. Google used its data analytics power in Project Aristotle to find out what makes a successful team and concludes that psychological safety as well as purposeful work, are two of the five success factors keys. The CEO of Menlo Innovations and author of Joy Inc. says his mission is to “emancipate the heart of the engineers…which is to serve others. He thinks that there is a limit to the size of a business if it wants to bring joy to its customers.  And home-grown enterprises such as Atlassian, tell us that healthy teams embrace continuous improvement. They also say the dirty secret is that team work is ‘very’ hard and tools are not the ‘fix-it’. They contribute their team playbook to the world, because they know it will be ‘very’ hard to emulate, especially for competitors who have an ‘efficiency and dollars must prevail’ philosophy.

We need even more examples of those who are doing good for customers as well as for employees and especially those in the social sphere.

Whom do you admire? What are they doing differently from the ‘norm’? Where can we find them and highlight the good practices they have developed?

Connecting Scanners and Makers

I love Barbara Sher’s Scanner* network and the “Look what I’ve made” group. I also love her idea for a “Scanners, Steal my Idea” group, but I wonder…

[Here’s my main idea which I would love someone to steal]

For a while have been thinking that if  the Scanner community could get connected with communities of makers that would be even better than asking Scanners to steal our ideas. Makers – be they craftspeople, tradespeople, software or business developers – might be interested to steal and produce some of our ideas.

I am one of those Scanners who gets my joy from imagining fantastical new things. I have much less interest in building and creating (perhaps because it takes soooooo long). I would love to partner with makers who do love the work of making things.

* For those less familiar with Barbara’s work, Scanners are people with multiple interests and talents.  Also called multipotentialites by Emilie Wapnick in her TED talk

Dont fight the status quo – make it obsolete

Confronting corporations and their lack of sustainable practices will only get us so far. As Buckminster Fuller, the designer and systems theorist, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

In the transition to a renewable energy, steady-state economy, entrepreneurs can follow Fuller’s advice by nurturing business models that create shared value, applying alternative business structures, and tracking social and environmental performance. We can start to re-use the most plentiful resource on earth – people power – instead of the current focus on automation technology using scarce resources.

We, the public, can also agitate for legislation to “internalise” social costs such as pollution and health risks, instead of the current externalising which pushes the profits to our corporations and the remeditation costs to us the public.


Super Star or Super Team

I love Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk about superchickens! It reinforces the Belbin research from many years ago showing that a super team of people who are working for the good of the team result will outperform a team of super stars who are working for their own good.

As someone who – I confess – has wanted to be the superchicken in the team on occasions (my idea is the best idea), this is a timely reminder that we look great when we help each other do great work together.  Celebrating together is much more satisfying than celebrating alone!

Conversation – for converging not converting

What if we had conversations with the purpose of converging our ideas, rather than trying to convert others?  Then instead of two ideas we could have an new and interesting third idea.

With just one change of letter we can have a whole new experience of conversations in business and at home.

Thanks to Desmond Sherlock for a great idea and a great interplay of words. I look forward to learning more in Rethink Perfect.

Sharing Sydney – join the move to collaborative consumption


Good to see the City of Sydney council is supporting the collaborative consumption movement – which is all about sharing stuff instead of owing or hoarding it.

Having the council involved addresses two of the barriers to collaborative consumption programs.  One barrier is  – trust – can I trust that others won’t damage or steal my stuff; and critical mass – are there enough people near me who want to share with me to make it worth my while participating.

The City of Sydney activities and events are open to all residents and workers, so come along to an event soon, make connections and improve your work and life.

The ultimate negotiation strategy

Many years ago I read about tit for tat as the ultimate negotiation strategy.  This updated version  is an enhancement that really covers all bases – tit for tat with gratuitous friendliness.

The traditional tit for tat strategy says to start cooperatively then match the other party’s response (but don’t escalate).  However it may still escalate if you are not careful, so when things seem to be getting out of control, the enhancement of “gratuitous friendliness” means you can call a halt to the escalation.

Examples include “let’s take a step back”, “I think we are furiously agreeing here”, “let’s check in what we both agree on”, “we seem to have gotten off to a rocky start, let’s start over”, “I’m sorry if I have misunderstood”.  All these friendly / accommodating phrases, now make even more sense as ways to break a spiral of aggression.

Collaborative consumption – making sharing cool

I love Rachel Botsman’s TED talk on Collaborative Consumption and her mission to support us to move from owning more stuff to getting the benefit of the experience.

Check out if you have something you don’t need and want to swap it for something you do need.  I’ll swap any book I own for a copy of Botsman’s new book on Collaborative Consumption using

Or for those products with “high idling capacity” like our kayak which sits in the back yard 50 weekends out of 52, I can now offer it for someone else to use on and still reserve the pleasure of kayaking two weekends a year.

As is often said, we don’t have a scarcity of stuff, we have a distribution issue.  With collaborative consumption the leading edge entrepreneurs are creating new business models to allow low cost redistribution of unwanted stuff – about time I say.