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#ebbf25 – Ralph Blundell on the unexpected outcomes of parallel journeys to unity and collabor

Michael spiegel

Ralph Blundell will be sharing the stage at ebbf’s annual event in Barcelona with Deutsche Bank’s Michael Spiegel, Global Head of Trade Finance & Cash Management Corporates offering their unexpected outcomes as they embarked in parallel journeys to bring a culture of unity and collaboration to their respective workplaces. Below an appetiser to introduce their keynote and learnshop session where they will unpack and share the learnings from each setting, highlighting the surprising outcome that both destructive as well as constructive forces are necessary to bring real unity and collaboration in teams.

While consulting and guiding Michael’s efforts in a team of highly driven executives at Deutsche Bank, Ralph was taking a parallel journey creating his own business, a network of global consultants. Whilst he was suggesting to Michael the application of some values-driven principles, those most relevant to a large competitive corporation, he wanted to apply the full spectrum in his own business. “I was able to cherry-pick sympathetic like-minded individuals in my business, whilst Michael had to deal with his existing team of ego-driven individuals.” Ralph shared “you’d imagine my situation leading to nirvana whilst Michael faced a more complex situation. However, if you think of any system, for it to reach unity and balance it needs to first grow and develop and evolve and with that evolution tensions and differences are inevitable, and they become a creative force. So a developing system has opposite forces of  destruction and construction that are always active – without darkness you cannot distinguish the light. There is an obvious need to manage the destructive forces but I surprisingly found out that, to allow the full light to emerge, you actually need to curate and grow and even amplify the negative.

When unity becomes compromise it is not real unity

The apparent state of unity that exists by achieving compromise, actually reduces the level of performance and of growth and the acceleration of change that is so necessary in today’s ever evolving world. That kind of unity is not helpful.  Stopping or ignoring dissent is not the way to unity, indeed encouraging resistance, difference, even sometimes growing and amplifying it, spurs the creative process. As in nature and science, real unity is found when the destructive and constructive forces are in in balance.

“Michael’s system was very individualistic; much I and little we, individual performance targets and compensation, and a culture where people were not used to collaborating. On the face of it he had to contend with a lot of resistance. He started with simple things e.g. to highlight the benefit of cooperation he instituted a 24 hour rule: instead of people coming with complaints … “I have a problem with this person please fix it for me boss” …he encouraged team members to bring issues out in the open speedily and fix it themselves. Beyond encouragement, he sanctioned those who came to him before they had tried to deal with it. His team were forced into a culture of collaboration: either we solve this or things will get worse.”

On the other side of the story, in Ralph’s team, the energy of conflict did not exist , everyone was nice to each other, “whilst we reached unity of values and a constructive learning environment we were not productive as a team. We were comfortable with each other, enjoyed learning, and were individually successful. There simply was no need to be a team. For Michael’s team the imperative was to deliver and get results. His team had a to meet client needs and deadlines in a way we didn’t.”

We noticed from these two parallel paths that

the relationship with the outside world is a driver of motivation to unite and collaborate

Transparent Compensation, abundance and safety nets make excellent entrepreneurs and team members

Another driving force for unity and collaboration comes from compensation systems. “While we know that compensation is not a prime motivator, it has to be more than an after thought. Fair compensation says something about the organisation and provides safety.

We are reluctant to explore compensation, either believing it is private or that abundance and wealth will simply be be attained. In our sessions we will address how significant reward and transparency about compensation are.

A recent study shared by ebbf member Amanda Enayati showed how some of the most successful entrepreneurs are not courageous risk takers at all, but are rich kids with a safety net, people who can afford to fail. If we truly want to liberate team members, to allow them to take risks and be creative, we need more than a belief in abundance. We will explore how we can create a safe environment risk, a belief in a world of abundance and proper supporting systems that allows people to relax and give and share more ideas and collaborative efforts to allow this abundance to emerge. We need to reflect on how to best compensate individuals and teams and how new compensation methods can be fair and sustainable for everyone.

the great thing about certitude is that if you end speculation you have a place, a new starting point: you are liberated

An example of that comes from what happened when many years of uncertainty and closure talks at a British arms manufacturer ended with the news that yes, they would close down. An intense period of creativity followed – destructive forces being counter=balanced by emerging new constructive and inventive thought. The workforce, management, and trade unions came together and started to collaborate on “what can we do instead”. The result was an amazing array of ideas.

And a final word about the importance of emotional intelligence in creating unity and collaboration in teams. Daniel Goleman’s  work on emotional  intelligence actually originates from a study of post world war diplomats, that found the most successful people in rebuilding relationships between people and countries who had been at war for years were those diplomats most adept at using emotional intelligence.

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