The Mediation Times


From ‘phone a friend’ to ‘ask the audience’ – new era of collaboration

by Amanda on July 17, 2009

I recommend an article on collaboration by Joseph Leary at

It was particularly relevant today.

I had three very frustrating conversations with genuinely helpful people at call centres about some (as I perceive it!) shortcomings in their companies’ service provision.  All three were genuine in their appreciation of my frustration. All three quoted “procedure”.  All three said they could do nothing about the underlying causes and it was hopeless telling anyone – they didn’t take any notice. One of them confided in me that he was so fed up with understanding the customer’s point of view and not being able to do anything about it that he was leaving before he became ill.

Putting aside my own frustration for a moment, for those who have the responsibility of dealing with customers and no authority to change things it is a recipe for stress and illness. The costs to them are significant, the hidden costs to their employers are equally significant in terms of staff turnover and absence due to sickness.


So will there be a revolution from the front line? Will the wisdom of the many triumph over the expertise of the few?  Will we ask the audience instead of phoning a friend?  Here’s an excerpt from his article about the changes that he sees coming.

  • Attempts at “perfect” planning and execution will be replaced by rapid prototyping and feedback systems.
  • The goal of management will change from the predictable permanence of procedure to the productive permanence of change.
  • Employees will become providers; employers will become clients.
  • Trials and feedback (scientific process) will replace conventional wisdom.
  • Orders for change will come from the bottom, not the top.
  • There will be no arbitrarily assigned “managers.” There will be self-assumed or appointed “directors,” “connectors,” and community “leaders.”
  • There will be more questions than directions.
  • By default, the answer to change is Yes. Evidence will be required to justify a “No.”
  • The best providers will not be those who do what they are told the best; they will be who adapt the fastest, and produce the most efficiently.

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