Serendipitous Collaboration in Unlikely Places

2 min read · December 30, 2020

Category: General MusingsTagged with: Team HealthPsychological SafetyCreativity

Photo by Daniel Cheung

"Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do." ~ Daniel Coyle

A little over a month ago I joined a shameless self-promotion channel in a Slack group to get notifications of colleague's blog posts and occasionally share my own. I expected it to serve as a means of constraining the firehose of information to alert me about new things I cared about. It has achieved that goal, but has morphed into something well beyond that.

This group has become a safe place for people to share ideas and be vulnerable about unfinished concepts. We continue to grow and learn together, spring boarding ideas off of each other and providing alternative perspectives. It's also a place where people have great conversations about each other's ideas, celebrate and support each other's work, and regularly provide follow on posts reflecting on the thoughts and work of another person. Being surrounded by other people creatively engaging with the world around them is powerful motivation to doing so yourself.

Digging under the surface it's clear that this group is sending belonging cues galore. Belonging cues are subtextual indicators that are the foundation for building the psychological safety of a team. In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle shares 3 basic qualities of belonging cues.

  • Energy: People invest in the exchange that is occurring. Here people are genuinely interested in people's thoughts. We celebrate each other's perspectives and work intentionally.
  • Individualization: People treat the person as unique and valued. We are consistently saying how much we value someone's thought they shared in Slack, a point they made in a post, and how their post inspired someone to write one of their own.
  • Future Orientation: They signal that the relationship will continue. People show their commitment to each other by continuing to show up and to care about each other as people first. We are a group of people grappling with ideas and emotions first, and creators second.

Given enough and consistent belonging cues, communities and teams can spring up in the unlikeliest of places. As a result we evolve and learn together.

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