Throughout my career, I've found that a crisis often creates the best opportunity for collaboration. It brings the payoff from change into sharp relief.
In New York we created a crisis of embarrassment, a crisis of confidence about the old way of measuring success by the number of arrests rather than by impact on the real problem.
Our kitchen cabinet of trusted advisers, many from outside the NYPD, helped create a new vision and goals— to reduce crime, fear, and disorder and save lives as fast as we could in New York.
Disorder was critical because it was so prevalent in the city. Eight million New Yorkers saw disorder day in and day out, but it had not been targeted by the department for thirty years.
From the kitchen cabinet it snowballed. A larger group created the strategies and best practices. That began the process of buy- in from the top of the department. Now the vision was growing to include insiders— a new collaboration.
The vision quickly spread out like a Christmas tree. The overall goals are the trunk. You have people who have been frustrated by the status quo and are now seeing that these goals are going to meet some of their needs. Their efforts become the tree's branches.
As you bring more and more people in, you have more branches, and the branches get fuller. Then you push the process down even further as you get down into the rank and file -- and demand accountability in return. They contribute the tactics in each case, and that's like the ornaments going onto the tree.
The idea is to get as many people as possible into the game, as quickly as possible, and involve them in every aspect. At each level, you attract more people who appreciate the vision, who appreciate how this is going to impact them, individually and as a group.
That creates multiple benefits, so that out of every action many groups benefit. That's very important. That's where you get maximum buy-in, just by being very transparent about what you are trying to do.
That's how "What's in it for me?" makes collaboration pay for all. Like a Christmas tree, it's a beautiful thing to behold.
What happened next – from translating vision to action, to results? Read the full account in Collaborate or Perish!