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Opening Doors to Teamwork and Collaboration: 4 Keys That Change Everything

Opening Doors to Teamwork and Collaboration: 4 Keys That Change Everything

by Judith H. Katz

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Your people might be your organization’s greatest assets, but their interactions with one another are what determine the quality and the quantity of their contributions. Few organizations know how to generate the sense of excitement, energy, and shared mission that occurs when people truly join together. This book shows how, describing four simple behavioral


Your people might be your organization’s greatest assets, but their interactions with one another are what determine the quality and the quantity of their contributions. Few organizations know how to generate the sense of excitement, energy, and shared mission that occurs when people truly join together. This book shows how, describing four simple behavioral keys that fundamentally change how people work together — building greater trust, understanding and collaboration.

“This book is filled with wonderful common sense; alas, uncommonly practiced. Anyone who wants to improve their own communication and their team's collaboration skills cannot come away untouched.”
—Beverly Kaye, Founder and Co-CEO, Career Systems International and coauthor of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go and Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

“Judith and Fred share four simple but powerful keys that will help you and your colleagues knock down barriers and create a winning team. Regardless of organizational level, your team will form a lasting bond that upholds an idiom my associates and I learned long ago: No one of us is as smart as all of us.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Great Leaders Grow

“The beauty of Opening Doors is its ability to translate complex human interactions into simple but meaningful language that help leaders unlock the potential of their organization and initiate transformational culture change that will result in more engaged employees, higher productivity, increased performance and stronger, more sustainable business results.”
—Rohini Anand, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo

“This book is a laser beam on what makes work and all other relationships work. It declares that face-to-face relationships, not technology, not clear objectives, vision and metrics are what make organizations adaptive and sustainable.”
—Peter Block, author of Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, and Community

“This book is the best training I've received on how to achieve breakthroughs for greater performance. Devoid of jargon, it demonstrates brilliantly, how countless opportunities can arise when we choose to have more collaborative moments in life.
—Michelle Martin, radio personality and host of "The Wow Club" 938LIVE, Mediacorp Radio, Singapore

Product Details

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
BK Business
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Welcome to Opening Doors
The basic building blocks of organizations are our interactions. This book offers a simple method for improving those interactions.
The work and the working environments of organizations are the sum of countless daily interactions. They are the very fabric and foundation of teamwork and collaboration.
While technology is enabling faster and better connectivity, human connection is moving at a much slower pace. In this time of so much change and so many unknowns and unknowables, our human interactions are not keeping pace.
Having clear interaction is critical, and yet we seem to find less time and less capability to understand each other. We expect Right First Time technological solutions, but we rarely expect or experience Right First Time human interactions. And while we may have tools to provide greater technological connectivity, we often lack the tools for human interaction connectivity.
Organizations are only as productive as the interactions that take place among individuals, teams, and work groups. Very few organizations address the quality of interactions, and—no surprise—very few organizations have been able to create the sense of excitement, energy, productivity, and shared mission that occurs when people truly join each other and experience strong, positive, collaborative, and productive interactions.
Opening Doors offers ways to have better, more productive, more satisfying interactions—Right First Time interactions—because increasingly, that first time may be only one of a few opportunities we get.
The Keys That Open Doors to Better Interactions, Teamwork, and Collaboration
Can you remember your early days on a new job? You felt excited, maybe a little scared. You saw doors opening for you to bring your skills to your team.
But over time, you became aware of how some doors closed when you felt judged by others. You stopped sharing a difference of opinion for fear of being seen as an outsider, and you did not feel safe to speak up. Other doors closed when you did not feel heard or took unneeded actions because you misinterpreted what people wanted or meant.
How often do the doors to greater teamwork and collaboration close—or never open—because people …
don’t trust each other?
don’t feel safe to speak up?
misunderstand each other’s intent?
don’t want to hear different points of view?
How much energy is wasted trying to figure out what is the right key that will unlock the door?
The power of the 4 Keys is that they work! They provide a common language to behaviors that is easily understood and that everyone can use. They open the doors to teamwork and interaction. And when the doors open, inside are the rewards of greater trust, collaboration, understanding, and breakthroughs.
Since we wrote Be BIG: Step Up, Step Out, Be Bold in 2008, we have seen the impact the book has made on people’s lives at all levels of organizations. People who once felt small found ways to be BIG—BIGGER than they could have imagined. People easily use the language of Be BIG; this alone helps them have the courage to raise issues and to challenge team members in a joining way to accomplish more together than they could alone. Be BIG continues to make an impact on how individuals see themselves, see their colleagues, and engage together as team members to achieve so much more. Just the notion of Being BIG and stepping up has changed lives.
The journey toward higher performance and the ability for individuals and teams to work more effectively together begins with Being BIG. That is an important start—to have the courage and to see the possibility of being better individually and collectively. But all too often, people struggle with how to Be BIG—how to unleash their own and their team’s potential. What is needed to help people Be BIG is to unlock the doors to improving human interactions, and the 4 Keys That Change Everything do just that.
That is the power of the 4 Keys—it is not magical; it is not complicated. It just takes a willingness to apply these behaviors to change your interactions.
This book is for anyone from the shop floor to the executive suite in search of higher performance, greater collaboration, faster and better decision making, stronger problem solving, and the ability to create breakthroughs. For individuals and teams in organizations around the globe, these 4 Keys have opened doors to improved performance. So …
if you want to experience greater trust, understanding, collaboration …
if you need to generate greater productivity and transformative breakthroughs …
if you are ready to achieve more with others than you can alone …
… then read on, and doors will open for you and your team members too.
In addition to the “we” voice—the voice of the authors, Judith and Fred—there are several other voices used in the book.
A voice explores the concepts of the book:
Appearing as first-person experience and is printed in blue type like this.
And as illustrated characters when providing their insights:
This voice appears in
typeface like this.
There is also an “I” voice that questions and has doubts:
“This voice appears in quotes like this.”
If this multiple-voice approach feels unfamiliar, we hope you will Lean into Discomfort and hang in there with us. We hope you will Listen as an Ally to try to understand the Keys from the perspectives of individuals who have actually worked with them. We hope the different voices help to clarify the Intent and Intensity of these Keys—what they are, how they are experienced by people in organizations, and how they work in real-life situations. And by Sharing our Street Corner with you, we hope it becomes clear that this process of listening to and joining with multiple voices—the reality of teamwork and collaboration—is the surest route to the breakthroughs we are all looking for in our organizations, our work, and our lives.
We know this is a BIG statement. These 4 Keys do change every interaction. We have seen it. We have lived it. And yes, we understand why you might be skeptical.
We would doubt such a BIG claim. But we have observed these keys at work in organizations all over the world.
The Keys provide a common language that everyone can use. They are simple and powerful.
Opening the Door to Trust
Opening the Door to Collaboration
Opening the Door to Understanding
Opening the Door to Breakthroughs
Opening this door feels like I am taking a risk, but if I want greater teamwork and collaboration, I need to Lean into the Discomfort I feel in order to get to know you better. How else can we work together? How else can we solve problems and eliminate confusion and wasted effort?
When I Lean into Discomfort I help make it safer to be honest and open with you. As I feel safer and you feel safer, we can open the Door to Trust. Unless I am willing to Lean into Discomfort, the door to those possibilities and potential will remain closed.
When I Listen as an Ally, it enables me to hear what you, my team members and colleagues, are saying, and all of us to build on each other’s ideas.
Slowing down to hear you is the key that unlocks the door to collaboration, which results in faster achievement of our goals.
When you State Your Intent and Intensity, it helps me, my team members, and my colleagues take the guesswork out of suggestions or directions and opens the door to greater understanding of each other. Stating my Intent and Intensity does the same for you.
As the door to understanding is opened, I see how to contribute more quickly, confidently, and decisively. When I know how best to contribute, I know how to add value; and if you do the same, we can each add greater value. And this combined greater value results in our saving time as we achieve Right First Time interactions.
When you Share Your Street Corner and I share mine, we learn to hear differences as contributions, rather than as sources of conflict. As we share our different perspectives, we can see the fuller 360-degree view, use our combined resources, and achieve breakthroughs none of us could have envisioned or accomplished alone.
By using all 4 Keys, the doors to trust, collaboration, and understanding are opened, and the door to breakthroughs unlocks.
Using the 4 Keys Starts with Joining
Judging or Joining? Every interaction begins with this critical decision, and it impacts everything that follows. We do it so quickly and automatically that we are usually not even aware of it.
When I meet you, do I join you—see you as a friend, an ally, someone on the same side of the table? Or do I judge you—size you up, wonder if you are someone not to be trusted, engage cautiously with you, and deny you the benefit of the doubt?
If I decide to join you, I treat you as someone worthy of respect. I listen, am open, extend trust, share information. I am willing to have honest and perhaps difficult conversations. I seek to learn from you. I give you the benefit of the doubt.
If I truly want to open doors to teamwork and collaboration, I need to start by seeing what I could gain from joining you.
Rather than believing I am better off going it alone, I begin to believe that the best way to succeed is through partnership and collaboration. And by joining you, I am investing in our partnership with the expectation that we will connect and together do great things.
If we begin by truly joining, we have the ability to open many doors and unlock the potential and power each of us can bring to the team and to the larger organization. But we have heard others say …
“Joining is difficult.”
“It is hard to trust others and to earn their trust.”
“It is hard to listen to others, especially when they
are not saying things I want or expect to hear.”
“It is hard to define my intentions clearly
when others aren’t defining theirs.”
“And it is very, very hard to actively seek out and
support perspectives that are different from my own
to make sure all Street Corners are heard from.”
We used to think these things too.
But when we began to observe the 4 Keys in action, we noticed that people quickly made them a way of life in their organizations—and in their personal lives as well. People actually like to practice these simple Keys; and when used, these 4 Keys change Everything. We invite you to join us as we open new doors.

Meet the Author

Judith H. Katz and Frederick A. Miller are executive vice president and CEO, respectively, of the Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Inc. (KJCG). KJCG’s clients include many Fortune 100 companies, governmental agencies, and not-for-profits. Katz and Miller are the authors of The Inclusion Breakthrough and Be BIG. They were named Legends of Diversity by the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners in 2011.

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