The Gift of Less Collaboration

“Just tell us what to do.”

I am usually a fan of co-created decisions and strategies. But these days, I’m not so sure. I’ve already told you I’m a collaborative strategist who doesn’t enjoy group work. Now I’m becoming a collaborative strategist who’s advocating a less collaborative approach to strategy making. What is going on here?!

Where I live, we’re 15 months into public pandemic messaging that has changed frequently and has often been vague, inconsistent and/or confusing. This has been particularly stressful because the stakes are high, involving the health of those we love. Almost every aspect of our daily lives has been affected, including whether our kids can go to school, if it’s safe to go to the grocery store and/or whether we can secure a vaccine appointment. Interpreting guidelines (and negotiating them with our families!) has become a part-time job in itself.

With such high levels of uncertainty over an extended period of time, strategic planning can seem like an impossible and unwelcome task.

Which is why I’m suggesting a change in approach. Rather than involving a wide range of stakeholders in designing strategies from scratch, groups are content to weigh in on drafts that have already been written. Shorter meetings, tighter instructions, clearer metrics, fewer decisions to make.

It’s a switch for organizations where extensive consultation and collaborative decision-making are the norm. But it’s a welcome change at a time of heavy cognitive load and chronic fatigue.

One more way to read the room.

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