Thursday, September 08, 2005

On Not Keeping Your Head Down

Interesting article from Wharton Business School on gaining competitive advantage by working "performatively" with colleagues (and yes, "performatively" is a word deserving of summary execution). The idea is sound, however, and probably even more meaningful when applied to one's individual workplace success: Benefits abound when you tap the knowledge of your colleagues. Furthermore, in any healthy organization the vast majority of workers "get it" and freely engage in this dialogue with no expectation of "payback."

That seems like a very basic observation, but in many corporate cultures - and for many smart people - interacting with others and asking for help is anathema. I've seen so many people who focus just on getting their heads down and doing the work. What suffers is not only their enjoyment of work, but also their ability to leverage the input of colleagues. Maybe you can avoid drafting a lengthy document from scratch. Perhaps someone else has great tips for dealing with a party you are about to face in negotiations.

Even more importantly, in corporate development you are a bit of an outsider to work that makes the company go. You aren't writing code, manufacturing products or designing networks. However, to do your job at the highest level you need to know as much as possible about how the business works. The more you know, the more informed your recommendations and decisions will be - you'll build better models, negotiate better deals and avoid costly mistakes. The only way to do this is by communicating with your colleagues throughout the business and at every level of the organization.

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