Leading Collaborative Organizations: Insights Into Guiding Horizontal Organizations

Leading Collaborative Organizations: Insights Into Guiding Horizontal Organizations

by Tyrus Ross Clayton


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491710227
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/28/2013
Pages: 106
Sales rank: 872,704
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.22(d)

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Leading Collaborative Organizations

Insights into Guiding Horizontal Organizations

By Tyrus Ross Clayton

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2013 Tyrus Ross Clayton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1022-7




When private sector organizations or local, state and national governments are experiencing problems, the blame is often attributed to failed leadership. In such circumstances, leaders receive most of the criticism even though economic, political and other factors may be as much as, or more responsible for these problems. The truth is that mono-causal explanations of often difficult, interdependent problems oversimplify complex realities. Nonetheless, effective leadership is very important to both avoidance of problems and the solution of those problems when they occur.

This importance is magnified in "Collaborative Organizations". Providing leadership in a collaborative organization is somewhat like trying to influence the behaviors of all individuals on a raft in white water given the noise, turbulent flow of the water and the different vantage points, assets and concerns of the crewmembers.

Leadership is particularly important when two or more organizations from different sectors (Private, Public and Not-for Profit) agree to collaboratively undertake programs or projects that cannot be carried out by a single sector. As these collaborative efforts are formed, partnerships between organizations lead to collaborative organizational activity and in essence, new "organizations" with notable characteristics are brought into being in often loosely structured arrangements. Mechanisms such as contracts, mutual aid agreements, terms of agreement, memoranda of understanding, public-private partnerships etc. are put into place. These arrangements create many leadership challenges. The primary purpose of this book is to aid leaders working in collaborative organizations to meet these challenges.

I had an opportunity to personally experience the dynamics of a collaborative organization early in my career. I was asked to become a temporary member of a project team that was in the formative stage of its project life cycle. The project had as it charge, development of a missile to exploit a novel guidance concept that had been benched tested. This project team included individuals who worked at various government laboratories scattered around the country and some consultants from the private sector. Only a few of the team's members were direct reports of the Engineer selected to be the project's manager. This Engineer was tasked to coordinate this ever-growing team's efforts; however he was not empowered with those elements of authority commonly associated with individuals occupying positions within a hierarchy.

My assignment on this team was to help develop a time and cost plan for the project using the then novel PERT planning technology (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). In the process of gathering information for this plan I visited the various engineering groups that were working separately on their tasks related to the different missile elements: the guidance and control systems, the airframe and its skin, the missile's power source, its explosive component, the missile's aerodynamic characteristics, studies of its manufacturability and reliability, and missile testing and evaluation procedures.

The centrality of the Project Manager's role quickly became apparent. These differing groups of Engineers were starting their work employing different assumptions about the eventual missile's length, weight, and center of gravity as well as their time and cost assumptions. I was able to provide clear evidence of the important role of the project manager as the missile's master architect and facilitator of team communications to ensure all were on the same page. Team members readily grasped the importance of working from common assumptions and recognized their mutual interdependence as their work progressed. The project team understood that collaboration was crucial and that the Project manager's role was central. In the ensuing months that I was with this project I observed the emergence of a highly effective team that exhibited a mission driven, collaborative ethos.

Premises Underlying this Book

This section of the introductory chapter identifies the book's major premises. Each of the premises is addressed in some detail in the remaining chapters of the book.

• Collaborative organizations differ from stand-alone organizations that have hierarchical structures with a single person at their apex. Collaborative organizations are not bureaucratic, top down organizations. In fact, they are bottom up organizations and often have multiple, horizontal relationships. Readers of this book will come to understand the characteristics of collaborative organizations and the leadership challenges they pose.

• Research and Development organizations are collaborative organizations; they provide useful insights into behaviors and attributes of leaders that are compatible with the requisites of inter-sectoral collaborative organizations. Technical Directors of Laboratories and managers of their programs and projects lead without relying on bureaucratic authority; yet they are able to carry out their leadership responsibilities effectively. These individuals lead by example, earn respect for their expertise, gain trust by being trustworthy, and are adept at influencing and persuading their followers to commit their talents and energy to shared goals and values. Chapter 8 goes into more detail on this premise.

• It is useful to revisit quality literature on leadership to glean insights from that literature that are particularly well suited for use by collaborative leaders.

• Leaders of collaborative organizations need to be well grounded in organizational theories and organizational analysis. These leaders need to have a "bag of conceptual tools and techniques" to assist them in steering their "fluid organizations".

• An ability to "frame" and "reframe" situations by viewing them through differing conceptual frames of reference and thereby guide organizational dynamics will be a particularly important attribute of collaborative leaders.

• "Leadership languages" will be beneficial assets in the context of collaborative organizations. These languages are composed of the many concepts, models, theories, metaphors and analogies leaders may choose to employ.

• Leadership approaches grounded in "systems thinking" will prove particularly useful to collaborative leaders. System thinking is grounded in a vast literature about differing facets of systems and the applications of systems concepts to challenges leaders face.

• Collaborative leaders need to skillfully nurture new ideas and technologies if they are to be successful in guiding the inventive and innovative efforts of their organizations.

Organization of the Remainder of Book

Today, we are seeing increasing numbers of inter-sectoral collaborative organizations—those that involve participation by organizations from at least two of three sectors; that is, the private, public, and not-for-profit. In Chapter 2, the characteristics of these collaborative organizations are identified and challenges facing leaders are discussed.

In Chapter 3, I delve into the leadership challenges that flow from the characteristics of collaborative organizations identified in Chapter 2. I do this by exploring what I consider to be among the best books on leadership for relevant insights. I mention only a few of the most relevant insights of each book and hope that some readers will be stimulated by these insights to obtain and read the entire book.

There are an enormous number of books on leadership. In the online class that, Paul Danczyk and I taught, sixty-five students were asked to summarize a book of their choice on leadership. There was very little overlap in their choices with the exception of The Prince by Machiavelli! The leadership books I have selected have all been written within the last one-hundred years. The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Winslow Taylor was published in the 1916. The most recent, The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, by Steven Sample was published in 2002. I believe each of these books makes major contributions to our understanding of the art of leadership and has relevance for leaders of collaborative organizations.

Leadership "tools and techniques" are discussed in Chapter 4. This chapter focuses upon maps, models, theories and typologies. These conceptual tools will be defined and illustrated. The importance of the analogies and metaphors leaders employ will be discussed. Leaders are challenged to consider "what is in their "tool bag"? There are an enormous number of tools and techniques available to leaders, but which of those tools do they "own" and use in practice? This chapter seeks to assist leaders in reflecting on that question and in considering how they might augment their "tool bags"!

Chapter 5 differentiates preceptive and receptive thinking, and explores examples of lens and frames that are now part of the "accepted wisdom" that has currency with many leaders. Some of the works of major contributors to that body of wisdom will be singled out and examined in this chapter.

Two specific tools that are often overlooked in writings on leadership will be described and illustrated in Chapter 6. The first tool, system diagramming, flows out of a rich body of literature on system thinking. Industrial Engineers refined early efforts at systems and procedures analysis while constructing a raft of tools associated with Management Science and Operations Research. Economists, using a systems frame of reference, developed Systems Analysis as a means of weighing the costs and benefits of alternative system configurations. Systems Diagrams as described in this chapter, provide leaders with a gestalt for thinking of their organizations as "open systems".

Co-alignment analysis is the other system-based tool that can be of great value to leaders as they weigh their options for actions to keep their organizations in "harmony" with rapidly changing contextual factors. This tool can assist leaders in identifying their organization's "non-alignments" that will need to be resolved, and suggest possible options for bringing things back into alignment. Both of the above Systems-based models/tools are constructed using sets of language for analysis that are easily learned and can readily be added to one's tool bag.

The relationship between language and leadership is explored in Chapter 7. A leader's "language" includes the terminology and concepts he or she employs to think, speak, write and act regarding their particular collaborative organization and its people, policies, values etc. Their language shapes how leaders perceive problems and opportunities confronting them and/or their organizations. Much depends upon their language; it may clarify, cloud, or simplify the realities of their context. Often, where leaders stand on important issues, depends on their leadership language. In this chapter I will discuss a classic book on Role Theory to introduce readers to a valuable language for Role analysis.

Chapter 8 provides a case study of an exemplary Research and Development leader, Dr. William B. McLean, the inventor/innovator of the Sidewinder missile. The two Navy Laboratories that Dr. McLean led had hundreds of ongoing projects and project teams that normally worked in non-hierarchical settings in collaboration with private sector organizations and other government laboratories and agencies. This chapter begins with an explanation of three interrelated processes: ideation, invention and innovation. It next discusses a typology for classifying organizations based upon their degree of innovativeness. This material provides a useful backdrop for telling the story of Dr. McLean and his Sidewinder missile and how its invention impacted the nation of Taiwan.

A brief concluding chapter is provided at the end of the book; it summarizes some of the principal ideas contained in the book.

Following the Conclusion is an Appendix which provides guidance and principles for developing a common form of collaborative organization, a public, private partnership. The Appendix reflects the rich experience base with this form of collaborative arrangement on the part of its author, John Shirey, who is a nationally renowned City Manager. John is presently the City Manager of Sacramento, California.


Characteristics and Leadership Challenges of Collaborative Organizations


Collaborative Organizations come in many different forms. For example, they may be temporary organizations that are formed based on mutual aid agreements. When Fire and Police Departments experience critical incidents such as major fires or riots, they receive assistance from many other organizations based on these agreements. Once the incident is resolved, these temporarily assembled organizations cease to exist until the next incident. Ongoing joint task forces also are common collaborative arrangements. The Joint Crime Task Force for the Boston region reflected well on the potential of this form of partnership when the Boston Marathon terrorist incident occurred.

A more enduring collaboration may be a public private partnership that is formed to pursue objectives that a single organization is not able to take on. A current example is the City of Sacramento's partnering with the new owners of its NBA team to build and operate a modern sports arena. Other forms of collaboration include: contractual arrangements such as used by the Defense Department to engage the services of the Black-Water Corporation in Iraq; market mechanisms such as California has created to buy and sell "pollution rights" and thereby better control air pollution; and networks such as those that have been developed to share intelligence related to our anti-terrorism efforts within this country and around the world.

Articles addressing some of these forms of collaborative organizations are listed here for readers with an interest in a particular type of collaborative arrangement. Public Private Partnerships are addressed in the Appendix of this book by John Shirey, City Manager of Sacramento. For collaborations via contracts, I recommend, "A Contractual Framework for New Public Management Theory," by James Ferris and Elizabeth A. Graddy which appears in the International Public Management Journal, vol. 1 no. 2 (1998): pp. 225-240. For market based collaborative arrangements, I recommend, "Los Angeles's Clean Air Saga—Spanning the Three Epochs," by Daniel A. Mazmanian-published in 2008 in Toward Sustainable Communities, D. Mazmanian and M. Kraft, Editors.

In this chapter we address the question, what are some of the characteristics of collaborative organizations? We do not claim that we have created an exhaustive list of these characteristics but do believe we have pointed out some of the more important ones. Then, for each characteristic, we briefly examine some of the leadership challenges that these characteristics pose. In Chapter 3 we go into these challenges in more depth revisiting some of the classic writings on leadership to discern what insights they contain that can assist collaborative leaders in meeting the identified challenges. Subsequent chapters also address some of the major leadership challenges in considerable depth.

Characteristics and Leadership Challenges of Collaborative Organizations

In this section some characteristics of collaborative organizations are identified. The leadership challenges which flow from these characteristics are noted. Many of these insights came into focus while I was reading and grading papers written by fifty-five graduate students who were taking classes on Inter-Sectoral Leadership from the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy. These students wrote papers on a wide variety of collaborative organizations from around the world.

Characteristics of Collaborative organizations and the leadership challenges they pose are identified and discussed below:

Supportive Relationships: Collaborative organizations have to build and maintain supportive relationships with their "parent" organizations if they are to be successful.

The leadership challenge is to learn how to attain a degree of autonomy for their collaborative organization while building mutual trust and respect with their "parent organizations" and acquiring their ongoing support?

Loyalty: Participants in collaborative organizations have multiple loyalties—to the collaborative organization, to their parent organizations and to their own careers.

The challenge is to help employees sort through potential conflicting loyalties and assist them in developing a set of "multiple loyalties" between participants and the collaborative and parent organizations.

Hierarchy: Collaborative organizations are non-hierarchical; power is widely dispersed.

Challenges this characteristic creates for leaders include: In the absence of a single authority, how do you effectively wield influence? How do decisions get made? How are conflicts resolved? How are rewards and punishments dispensed? And who sets priorities in terms of time, cost and performance objectives?


Excerpted from Leading Collaborative Organizations by Tyrus Ross Clayton. Copyright © 2013 Tyrus Ross Clayton. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgements, xi,
Chapter 1 Overview, 1,
Chapter 2 Characteristics and Leadership Challenges of Collaborative Organizations, 8,
Chapter 3 Leadership Literature, 14,
Chapter 4 Leader's Conceptual Tools, 27,
Chapter 5 Thinking Tools: Lens and Frames, 34,
Chapter 6 Systems Models for Leaders, 40,
Chapter 7 Language and Leadership, 56,
Chapter 8 Innovation: An Exemplary "Collaborative Leader" Dr. William B. McLean, 63,
Chapter 9 Summary and Conclusion, 77,
Appendix Use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), 79,
Bibliography, 87,

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