Hi, I’m Charlie Grantham. I’m a virtual teammate of Trina Hoefling and Kathy Kacher at The SMART Workplace. As you can imagine, the entire working SMART team has been busy collaborating on this venture together as we go LIVE.


The shear amount of communication is mind numbing. The number of software platforms that need to be vetted and then integrated into one whole is amazing. That’s not even talking about building up content.  As we worked out the kinks, we realized we were living out in real time what we are suggesting other people do in their work lives.



We don’t want to go off into La La land, but I thought that a couple of my  observations about our own virtual work process might be helpful before the SMART Workplace blog’s heavy lifting begins over the coming weeks.



My 1st observation is about the power of intention.


When everyone in a team agrees on one common intention, everything else flows rather smoothly.  Once we stepped back and observed ourselves, we realized that this all began with many, many discussions about our purpose.


Why are we doing this? What do we intend to accomplish? Who do we serve best? What exactly will each contribute? The interesting thing is that we all fell to this very quickly. Maybe because all of us shared connections and friendships with other members of the core team. Or maybe all of us are in a similar stage of life. It’s about helping others live a higher quality of life. And we all believe that a great leverage point for that is how everyone works. So, that’s our focus, to help create a smarter workplace.


And here I think is where the magic occurs. We don’t just assume – we check back frequently to make sure everyone is operating out of the same intent and purpose. Which means, incidentally, that we would not bring someone else into the team who didn’t share those perspectives.


The 2nd team dynamic I observed is that collaboration is leveraged when teams talk.


There are many ways people can work together with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. The schema we use has three levels of group work: coordination, cooperation and collaboration. I’ll explain by way of metaphor.


A small group is intent on moving a ball from where one person stands to a bucket next to where the last person stands. Now think of them all positioned in a line. Coordination would be where person A hands the ball to person B and so on. Each person only has to take the ball, change hands and pass it to the next without any thought about the process.


Now let’s move it up a notch. We introduce another party who calls out the rhythm of the ball passing. It speeds up; it slows down. Now everyone has to cooperate within the rhythm of the dance so no one drops a ball. Notice that we have added a degree of knowledge about what’s coming at you and what you are passing on. And you’ve begun working in cooperation as a unit.


Game photosLastly, (and this is where we find ourselves operating at The SMART Workplace) there is true collaboration. Take the same process and add some complexity where each person is not only passing a ball but is also juggling three balls.  Or a team member has to take a temporary leave of absence from the business operation, as I’m doing now because of client work. In order for the process to work smoothly, each person has to sense and trust in what every other person is doing. No time to think about it, no time to ask, you just know. Everybody knows where everyone else is and what they can expect them to do. We trust that anyone will sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team.


Whew, that was a long way around my observations. But that’s what we have learned. Lots of conversation at first, clarifying terms, sorting out people’s styles and being very clear on what each person enjoys and should be doing – before passing that first ball. The basic difference in these ways of working is the underlying degree of trust that exists between team members.


Degree of Trust


As a treat, if you want to know what trust looks like when it breaks down, Go here. Lucy and Ethel remind us in this classic comedy clip.


And all of this means, just what? It means you can learn from our work team habits. Sounds like a simple assignment, but in our estimation, paying attention is absolutely critical. So write that on the wall. INTENTION SETTING. COLLABORATION. Make those your watch words.


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~ Charlie Grantham, Futurist and co-founder of The SMART Workplace