Distributed to Leadership and Work
Cross-Pollination at Work
How to share and interchange ideas for high performing teams in transforming business environments
In this article, I want to highlight the value and importance of cross-pollination for high-performance teams in transforming business environment. I’d like to share a simple example which helped transform a competitive, rigid, and difficult culture to a pleasant learning environment.
Cross-pollination is a metaphor taken from botany. The literal meaning of it is the transfer of pollen from plant flowers with different DNA which enable the creation of new types of plants carrying different attributes.
Cross-pollination is a powerful metaphor to understand the importance of diversity to create fusion in the workplace. I introduced the fusion principles and their importance in this article.
Fusion, Diversity, & Innovation
How Fusion Principles Improve Diversity & Innovation at Work
The metaphor of cross-pollination refers to sharing and interchanging of ideas, thoughts, information, and tacit knowledge for the enrichment of team capabilities.
One of the critical benefits of cross-pollination in the workplace is to maintain continuous learning.
The deliberate use of cross-pollination can create a pleasant learning environment. When the environment is non-threatening and supportive, we learn faster and more effectively. This perspective is well supported by prominent adult learning theories as covered in the attached article.
Prominent Adult Learning Theories
A condensed literature review for a leadership cognitive study
The practical implementation of cross-pollination can occur using the mentoring approach.
I see mentoring as a journey of shared discovery in the workplace.
As a mentor and protégé at the same time, I learnt new ideas, improved my skills, gained new perspectives, and developed sustainable working relationships.
Cross-pollination can be implemented using various techniques and tools. For example, cross-pollination can happen using Design Thinking workshops. These workshops bring technical, business, and user community in a room and help the team members develop creative ideas, new approaches, and novel knowledge constructs. The attached article introduces the Design Thinking method.
Design Thinking for Technical Excellence
Consideration of Design Thinking for agile product & service development
To enable cross-pollination in our teams, we need to re-architect the environment using established principles such as trust, personal responsibility, and collaboration. During this re-architecting process, we replace the following terms:
mistrust with trust
blame with responsibility
competition with collaboration
From my observations in business environments, reciprocity plays a vital role in cross-pollination in high performing teams. The insight I gained from reciprocity focused culture was seeing the support and favour as a privilege and return the favour in a different and unexpected format. This innovative implementation of reciprocity appeared to make a substantial impact on the quality of working relationships.
Act of Kindness
In one of the creative teams, playing a game called “act of kindness” raised the team spirit and turned the workplace to a pleasant and trusted learning environment. In this game, each team member was giving creative kindness to their team members without expecting returns.
Since everyone in the team had this mindset and acted accordingly, the interchange was occurring naturally. Team members were giving without expecting.
More interestingly, the more they were giving, the more they were receiving. As an ethnographic observer, I enjoyed this novel approach to reciprocity and shared the notion with other teams needed it to improve work culture and performance.
The act of kindness and natural reciprocity were representing the wind analogy for cross-pollination to occur naturally.