Collaboration — the new survival of the fittest | Pam Cooley | TEDxNovaScotia

Collaboration — the new survival of the fittest | Pam Cooley | TEDxNovaScotia


Translator: Lei Jiang
Reviewer: Denise RQ Let me start off by telling you
a story from my childhood. I was sitting cross-legged
on the living room floor, and the warmth
of the fireplace was at my back. My mom and dad were in their usual chairs,
and my brothers were on the coach, and we were watching the TV,
and it’s a Sunday night. We were in anticipation
of The Ed Sullivan Show. Yes, I am that old. (Laughter) The newscast came on
and all of sudden my back went cold, and I cringed with pain because what I saw on the TV
were these people in uniforms, and they had batons, and they were hitting people
on their backs and their heads, and people were bleeding and screaming, and they were throwing them
in the backs of the trucks, and I’m like, “What is happening?” And it was 1968, and that was the Chicago riots, and Martin Luther King
had just been assassinated. 36 of the 39 people
that were killed that day were black. I was 8 years old, and it imprinted on me. And I swore that day, I made a promise. Literally a home girl, I made
a promise, “I’m going to fix that.” (Laughter) So I spent my life observing
and working with people, and exploring how can people get along, and why they don’t get along. And I’ve been exploring
and searching what it means to be human. And I want to share with you what this 8-year-old
has come up with so far. (Laughter) I am proposing that collaboration is the new “survival of the fittest.” So we’ve been playing
all this old paradigm of power over where if I’m bigger than you, I win, or if I have the bigger weapons,
I am going to win. But we can’t do that anymore. We can’t gain from another’s loss. It’s with my experience
that if we were together and we learn about collaboration,
we learn the skill of collaboration, then we can innovate,
we can create the most amazing world. Think of a time when you were
with a group of people – might be a sports team, might be
a community team, or work project, or something that you’re working
with others and everything just worked – there was synergy, you were working on other people’s ideas,
building off each other, it just worked. What did that take? Usually when I ask this question,
people come back and they say: “Well, you know, it was a bigger project
than one person can do,” or “We had a shared purpose.” The thing is
that we’ve always been collaborating. This is the trick. Humanity wouldn’t even exist if we weren’t collaborating
and innovating. Innovation wouldn’t exist
if we weren’t collaborating. But I am proposing right now that it’s absolutely imperative
that we learn to do it better. I’ve been asking a number of my friends: “What is your definition
of collaboration?” And my friend Maggie from Vancouver,
– she lived on a farm, and so she’s talking about when the harvest time was ready,
that all the people would come, they would bring their buddies,
they would bring their equipment, and they would harvest it on. She had the best definition
that I resonated with. She said: “It’s when people come together to achieve something
for themselves and for others.” It’s pretty good. I also think,
why do people come together? Because they have to.
We can’t do everything on our own. The reason why is because everything…
There’s this thing called interdependence. Think for a moment, how many people here
have had a meal in the last 24 hours? OK. So think about the food
that was put on your plate. How many people had a part of putting it
there from the seed to the plate? How many people
had a part in getting it there? Think about the chair
that you are sitting on. Where did it come from? Where did the materials
come from that make that chair? How many hands… Who designed it? How many hands actually got it
to the place where you are sitting now? See, collaboration requires us
to recognize interdependence. And everything that exists depends on something
or something else in our world. Everything in our life. So why is it important now to recognize
the interdependence and collaboration? See, our understanding
of this has expanded. We started off cave people
around the fire, and we were communicating
with each other around the fire, and if we had an effect… We didn’t move very far
so it affected a little space. But then the… Fast-forward humanity
with lots of inventions. We’ve then been had the word and then our effects
were extended even greater. Now we have the technical world
that makes us global, and we all know that from some
of the talks that we’ve had today. But it’s just a matter of scope. Everything that we do affects
others, and others affect us. I was working in the refugee camps
with Southern Mexicans and Guatemalans. We were walking down
to get the water for the camps – and it’s usually the women and children. We were going down there,
and it’s quite a ways way… It’s really heavy and they put some
on their heads, carry it on their backs – and when we got to the water source
I said, “Well, can I help? And the children
were like, “I don’t know.” There were really mixed feelings
on their faces. I finally recognized that if I messed up,
the effects were enormous, because of the scope and the effects
on the people in the refugee camps. But they tried, they let me in. I made a fool of myself,
it’s really a lot harder than it looks. The thing is that humanity also depends
on all of the resources of the world. That’s all we’ve got, whether we are
in refugee camps or in the whole globe. All we’ve got to work with is we either grow it or we mine it, we harvest it, fish from the oceans, we breath it or we drink it. That’s all we have,
that’s all we have to work with. So, right now, the effects
if we do not collaborate could be disastrous. Our existence always
depended on collaboration. To now, the difference is
that it could be a global demise. So we have a choice. We can either collaborate with
the world resources, or we can fight for them. That’s what’s happening now,
and look at the effects, but it’s going to get worse
if we do not learn how to do this. So I have something
that I want to introduce you to, Iit’s called “collaboration ready,”
it’s a term that I’ve created, and that means that we can learn
how to be collaborative on a personal basis,
on an organizational basis, and on a country basis. I had an experience recently where I was trying to collaborate
with a city official here in Halifax. And a bunch of us were like,
“What about this?” The guy said, “No.” And “What about this?”
And he was like “No.” This guy was not collaboration ready. (Laughter) You have to actually be open
to other people’s ideas and how they meet with yours. But this incident actually helped me
create a new campaign, and I want you to join it,
especially here in Nova Scotia. I think you’ll resonate with this. You know, when you are working
with an idea, and you’re asking a question,
and you want something, and it bubbles up here,
and they’re going to say “No,” and you know they are going to say “No,” and it’s coming up… And before they say “No,” say “Maybe,” OK? So, when you know that they’re going
to say it, you just interrupt them; you go: “Before you say ‘No,’
say ‘Maybe.’ ” Right? It opens up a possibility. Say it with me:
“Before you say ‘No,’ say ‘Maybe.’ ” All right. You got it. Yes! On the west coast, Julie mentioned that,
I worked in the salmon fishery, and I worked with these most wonderful,
passionate people. They are from different sectors
that all have to do with salmon. So we have the environmentalists, we have the commercial fishers
who’re seemingly opposing vested interest, then we have the sport fishers,
and we have the aboriginal community, and we have two levels of government,
and we are all sitting around the table trying to figure out
what to do with salmon. When I met them 10 years ago,
they couldn’t sit next to each other. But when we went through
these different processes to bring them together,
to talk and to get more data, then they all figured out
that they actually needed each other. And then, with each story that they had,
they had a bigger picture, they had all the pieces of the puzzle;
not all of them, but some of them that actually helped them get
what they needed, in a better way. See, they all had same ethic,
or the same value, in the end, and that was to save the salmon,
to make the salmon thrive. And they all got what they wanted. See, this is a good example of how people who seemingly have
conflicting interests can come together. I also think that it’s really important
that we learn it on a country level. I have been listening
to Michael Enright on CBC, and he was talking to a guy
from Harvard University – Joseph Niall was his name – and they were talking about this thing
called hard power and soft power. And hard power is power
through the threat of force. Soft power is the ability to gain power
and influence through attraction. They were talking about
the international scope. Michael Enright asks: “Do you have
an understanding of how soft power can give a country
more clout on global affairs than the threat of force?” And Mr. Niall said: “If you undercut
your reputation for soft power, you’ll be left from the tables;
you won’t be invited.” And this can have an absolute,
devastating effect on countries. You see you can’t be a bully anymore, particularly as a leader of a country, Iif you know what I mean. (Laughter) Joseph used the word “attraction,”
I like the word “enrollment.” Enrollment means that you can
come to the table with your ideas, you can fight for what you uphold
and your vested interests because that’s what motivates you. You are not going to do anything
if you are not motivated. You are not going to be involved
if you are not motivated. But, if you walk through that door
and you are working with people, [you should] be open
to being a changed person when you walk out that door
from other people’s involvement. We are doing it on a global basis now.
I mean you’re all part of the digital era. You, more than anybody else
in the whole history of the world, get this. And we know that we were doing it
on a digital level, global level, all kinds of things are happening. I have a friend
– and we’ve seen a lot of examples today – who’s got a platform where all the scientists
from the Black Sea can get together and look at each other’s findings
and discoveries, and maybe one person’s discovery
can help them have a breakthrough in some other areas of the Black Sea. It’s an amazing collaboration. I think that we are all doing this, and I think that collaboration
is the most effective way, a response to work from a personal level,
a local level, and a global level. We can accomplish way more
in this wonderful Earth that we have. We can clean up the garbage and the waste, we will work with the winds,
the oceans, and the Earth in a way – we will work with all those things,
not against them, that’s what we’ve been doing. And less people will suffer needlessly. So, remember we have
the resources of the world, we can either fight for them,
or we can learn how to collaborate. I have a personal belief that we all have the right to live, to play, and to thrive, but my survival does not have
to be at the cost of yours, and that your survival
is not at the cost of mine. It all starts with all
of our personal moment-to-moment choices. So collaborate with me,
collaborate with me on a global level. Collaborate with whoever you are with,
whoever you are working with, playing with, living with,
singing with, and playing sports with. Learn how, and ask yourself: Am I collaboration ready?
Am I open to being changed? “Some may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one,” and I have been
since I was that little 8-year-old girl. Maybe you, all of you people here today, and people listening
to this talk later on, with all of us together, we can achieve
the greatest collaboration of all, and that is the laying down of arms. Pete Seeger sang a song, and I loved it,
and a lot of people sang it. He said: “Last night
I had the strangest dream I’ve ever dreamed before. I dreamed that all the world
agreed to put an end to war.” Thank you. (Applause)

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