Salute to Collaboration

engineers and technical professionals
Engineers and technical professionals from the U.S. Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems complex at LTU. // Photo courtesy of Lawrence Technological University

Some 120 engineers and technical professionals from the massive U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems complex in Warren recently took part in a two-day collaboration exercise at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

“The Army’s vision is to have no silos — to have the engineers and technical people working together,” says Jacqueline Stavros, a professor and the director of the doctor of business administration program at Lawrence Tech’s College of Business and Information Technology, who facilitated the sessions.

“Team Warren has probably 1,500 engineers and technical professionals, and they have 18 different capabilities teams. They wanted a strategy (for) collaboration and effective communication. Instead of the senior leadership telling them how to collaborate, they wanted the people, themselves, to come up with the strategy.”

The summit used Stavros’ published Appreciative Inquiry 4-D Cycle (Discover, Dream, Design, and Deliver) approach to collaboration, and discussions also followed a strategic thinking, planning, and leading framework designed by Stavros called SOAR, for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. When working with SOAR, participants are asked to identify an organization’s strengths (those things that can be built upon); opportunities (what are stakeholders asking for?); aspirations (the things a group cares deeply about); and results (how will an organization know it’s succeeding?).

“The feedback I’m getting is that they’re collaborating now, even before they have a plan together,” Stavros says. “It’s like a positive contagion throughout the organization.”