ATD Blog

Do You Have a Collaboration Mindset?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Eliminating silos is key to team and organizational success. Yet they continue to exist and, in some cases, dominate an organization’s culture.  

Silo Mindset vs. Collaboration Mindset 

Teams and organizations struggling with silos and the silo mindset are limited by how much collaboration they experience. I view the silo mindset as a fixed mindset and the collaboration mindset as a growth mindset, based on the work of Stanford University professor Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In the book, she makes the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, showing how mindset affects the way people live their lives. For example, people with a growth mindset possess the kind of perseverance and resilience needed to achieve creative solutions. 

Tackle Silo Busting 

Most people don’t function with a mindset that supports genuine teamwork. The typical mindset supports group work that is more about cooperating or coordinating with others. By developing an alternative mindset, people will be positioned to tackle silo busting, leading to improved team and organizational effectiveness.


A new training program called The Collaboration Game helps people on teams develop an alternative mindset to support genuine teamwork. The program is a one-day, team-based experiential training simulation that tackles silo busting by focusing on developing mindset before skillset. In the program, participants are introduced to 11 operating principles that serve as the core part of an operating platform used to support genuine teamwork.

These principles serve as governing principles that support a growth, or collaboration, mindset. Although all these operating principles are in play all the time, one principle, Rely on Each Other, specifically identifies the need to recognize the interdependency between people on teams and the need to minimize the silo mindset.  


Developing Skillset 

By developing a mindset for supporting genuine collaborative teamwork, people are better prepared to develop a skillset that focuses on collaboration. The idea of teaching people “a new range of competencies that focus on collaboration” is a key step to developing collaboration skills, reports the Center for Creative Leadership in its 2014 report, Future Trends in Leadership Development.

In The Collaboration Game, people are introduced to competencies aligned with each operating principle. For example, the competencies aligned to the principle “Rely on Each Other” include Relationship Building, Team Management, and Team Player. Teams are then challenged to discover solutions to a series of scenarios that examine their application of these competencies.

To learn more about The Collaboration Game, visit

About the Author

Winsor Jenkins is president of Winsor Jenkins & Associates, LLC, based in Portland, Oregon. As a leader who served in senior HR positions and contributed to the professional development of countless business executives, including HR managers, Winsor brings a deep knowledge about what it takes to achieve executive-level leadership in today's changing business landscape. He is the author of The Collaborator: Discover Soccer as a Metaphor for Global Business Leadership.

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