“They can learn to listen”

A month ago I wrote a long post about collaboration, and in it I said:

Collaboration takes place when you do what you are good at, and when you let other people do what they are good at.

Sometimes I wonder whether we as knowledge workers have learnt this. Somehow I don’t think so. Over the last thirty years, working primarily in service industries, working solely as a knowledge worker, I see something different.

I see people unable to respect the skills of others. Of wanting to be all things to all men.

Today, reading Andrew McAfee (a regular and recommended read, I’ve known Andrew for some time now), I saw this:

“They can learn to listen. Listening to each other is core to our culture, and we don’t listen to each other just because we’re all so smart. We listen because everyone has good ideas, and because it’s a great way to show respect. And any company, at any point in its history, can start listening more.”

That was Eric Schmidt answering Andy’s question on what other companies and managers can learn from Google.

They can learn to listen……because it’s a great way to show respect.

I couldn’t agree more. The secret sauce of collaboration in five words. Or a baker’s dozen if you want the expanded form.

Thanks Andy, and thank you Eric Schmidt.

4 thoughts on ““They can learn to listen””

  1. listening and respect: they go together across cultures, do they not?
    could this be the way to help grow ‘the learning organisation’? knowledge workers opening up codified and tacit knowledge embedded in people and processes – so that the organisation can respond by adapting to change- thus sustaining distinctive competence and competitive advantage…the paranoid may survive but the learners prosper…knowledge at point of need is key?

  2. Yes Yes Yes! I could not agree more strongly that companies need to LISTEN better.

    I’ve worked in great big companies that are threatened by change because they built their empire on a bygone widget. For example, it’s really scary to the media companies that people trade music and movies online. Console manufacturers are petrified that people hack their boxes to play DiVX-encoded media downloads. It’s scary for Microsoft to move into on-demand versions of Office.

    But rather than sticking your head in the sand or, worse, using legislation to legally coerce your customers into submission, you must change the way you serve them. Respect your customers’ demands, give them what they want how/where they want it, and they will respect you. And as we’ve seen with Apple, customer loyalty is incredibly valuable, no matter what business you decide to pursue.

    It’s scary for big companies to put their golden goose in danger. But if you don’t, someone else will. That’s innovation; ignore it at your peril.

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