Compliance versus Collaboration

by Frank Koehler

Is your business stagnating? Your procedures for getting jobs done could be to blame. Improve your business by unleashing your employees' hidden talents by establishing small, elite teams.

why you should encourage employees to collaborate
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The most cost effective way to manage human effort and achieve reliable results on mundane and/or repetitive tasks is to establish a realistic performance standard for each employee, train him/her in the skills needed to achieve that standard, and require him/her to produce to that standard by complying with the corporate rules, methods, processes, and culture. The result will be consistent mediocrity with little or no deviation outside the established norms. Compliance to job descriptions and corporate norms is an effective managerial tool for achieving efficient performance of mundane tasks, but over time it dulls the mind and degrades the human spirit.


The fastest, most operationally efficient, and most cost effective way to unleash previously underutilized human potential for super performance in the areas of providing preemptive innovation, high-impact process improvement, rapid adaptability to changes in the market, creative solutions to critical problems, and breakthrough achievement of vital corporate objectives is to establish a mini-culture of small, elite teams, train them experientially in collaboration and advanced business skills, assign them to vital tasks, empower them to think outside the traditional norms, provide them the resources they need to design and implement creative ideas, and applaud their successes. A small number of these teams will enable the organization to compete more innovatively, more cost effectively, and more preemptively in regional, national, and world markets.

Collaboration is a high performance skill for elite teams, if properly trained and empowered, that spawns synergy, excitement, awakening, and commitment, which in turn unleashes a collective genius for innovation, performance, and improvement.


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Approximately one quarter of the employees in the free-world economy have a combination of two factors that have the potential for stunning performance through collaboration: One is a hunger to make a difference that matters and the other is a compelling need to be respected by their peers in an elite endeavor. They are underutilized high potential employees, or UHPEs.

UHPEs begin the first full-time job of their careers with excitement, enthusiasm, and self-confidence. Within about five years in the traditional work environment, most of them have learned to comply with mediocre norms in order to provide for their families. The fire in their gut and the light in their eyes have dimmed to a faint ember. They have become identified with the masses, their performance is adequate to meet mediocre standards, and they no longer stand out as having high potential.

Individually and collectively, skilled collaboration with esteemed peers on an elite team with high value tasks re-awakens that hunger to make a difference. That ignites creativity and genius which catapults morale to unprecedented heights and provides the organization with rapid adaptability and competitive advantage.

Frank Koehler is an executive consultant specializing in crisis intervention, innovation, and rapid achievement of vital corporate objectives. He developed a non-combat adaptation of Military Special Forces as the vehicle for accomplishing extreme performance in those three areas. Visit his website at

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