Tag Archives: Shoemaker’s Syndrome

Do you resist collaborating? Why?

That “I can do it myself” voice seems to show up now and again,  and when it does,  I sometimes feel like the shoemaker who neglects the holes in her children’s sneakers! That kitchen caper I wrote about last time sure is a good example of this for me, the blogger about collaboration! So what can we do when we feel resistant to collaboration?

Lone Ranger - from a4gpa on Flickr's Creative Commons

I think the first step is to wonder  about why the do-it-yourself voice  shows up at all.

Do-it-yourself reason #1 – It takes too much time to ask someone else for ideas or input. This could be true sometimes but thinking it is always true keeps us from discovering the gems in someone else’s ideas. When  a hospital PR client of mine was called by a member of the press to make a statement on behalf of her organization she had to respond immediately.  However, when she was preparing a summary for her Board of all the items happening within the hospital that might get attention by the press she canvassed all of her direct reports for what they knew.  It’s about making the best choice for the task at hand.

Do-it-yourself reason #2 – I already know how to accomplish the task.  We can sure be know-it-alls!  Remember me with the sureness of where those kitchen items best belong when moving into my new kitchen?  The truth is my partner has discovered a much better placement of the pots and pans after preparing a few meals there.  Showed me, didn’t he!

Do-it-yourself reason #3 – It’s too taxing to resolve the inevitable differences of opinions that result from involving others. Who wants conflict anyway, right?  Wrong.  Sometimes these differences of opinion mix together and transform into a brand new possibility.  Check out the blog of Frans Johansson, the author of The Medici Effect where he relates “intersectional stories”; examples of where innovation comes about from the synergy of differing views.

Maddie Hunter is a business coach who is passionate about exploring the power of collaboration with  her clients.

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Shoemaker’s Syndrome in Collaboration

By 7-how-7 at Flickr's Creative Commons

You know the adage that the shoemaker’s kids are the ones with holes in their soles?  It also applies to the electrician who jury rigs extension cords rather than re-wiring a room or to the doctor who never gets a physical examination.  I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that the shoemaker’s syndrome also applies to me when it comes to collaboration.

Just the other day, my sweetheart Ames and I were unpacking more boxes from our move into our new townhouse.  This is a big deal to us as this will be the first home we share together.  We were focusing on organizing the kitchen.  This new kitchen has a wealth of cabinets so we had many choices to make about the best place to store glasses, dishes and the like.

For 40 years, I have always been the one in the family who cooks.  Truth be told, I have had a number of families, but what has remained constant is that I have been the cook.  Now things are different.  Ames is a competent cook.  He has been cooking for himself for years.  He has had his own home with his own ideas about the best placement for the coffee mugs, the wine glasses or the tall bottles of olive oil.

As we began placing items on the new shiny shelving, I found myself wanting to direct the show.  In my mind, I “knew” the best place to put the coffee mugs – – right above the coffee maker, right?  As more and more decisions were being made, growing in me was a sense of being unseated in my role as “the cook”.  I couldn’t believe that I was arguing with Ames about the need to raise a shelf so we could put the tall cereal boxes right by the shelf with the bowls.  I’m sure Ames was thinking but not saying,  “…and she’s writing a book about collaboration?”.  All that I know about the Rule of Six and diverse ideas being the source for great problem solving seemed to be lost in my brain as I became emotional about being right and in charge.

One of my mentors has always said that “we teach what we need to learn.”  I think this is a part of why I am so drawn to thinking about collaboration.  My will is strong to be independent and determined. I am a trusted teacher of collaboration and yet I know I am challenged by my own drive to do things myself.

I wonder if you find yourself believing so strongly in something yet not following the belief consistently in your actions?  Tell us about how the shoemaker’s syndrome is active in your life.

Maddie