Carl Mays: Take advantage of creative collaboration

Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

The Major League Baseball postseason games, now climaxing with the World Series, continue to build on a concept in contemporary athletics that is commonplace. I like to refer to it as “creative collaboration.” What I mean by this is, coaches and players alike realize and plan from the standpoint that each individual has certain strengths and certain weaknesses.

In baseball, years ago, pitchers began games with the intention of going the distance. You seldom see that today. If you watch much baseball, you are well aware there are pitchers who start the game, those who come in as middle-relievers, those who come in as late-relievers, and those who come in to pitch the final inning. In one recent game, I saw three different pitchers pitch to the three batters in the last inning.

In football, a coach will insert a specific running back when a couple of tough yards through the middle of the line are needed for a first down. A different running back will be inserted when a pass needs to be caught. Still another may be inserted for the purpose of gaining yardage by running the ball outside.

In basketball, it has become quite common to see coaches substitute players for offensive and defensive purposes. That’s one of the reasons the final two minutes of a game may last for about 30 minutes. With the planned fouling, times-out, and substitutions, the chess-match games sometimes seem like they will never end.

Creative collaboration is a proven way to tap into the power of various people for the good of the team. This, of course, is not limited to athletics. It can be utilized effectively in all endeavors. As most of us know by now, collaboration has been highly valued in the Japanese culture for years. Other countries have patterned after the Japanese businesspeople who have approached problems by working as teams.

The Hopi Indians have a legend that captures the value of collaboration. As the story goes, a Hopi tribe was forced to abandon its village because of an all-engulfing wildfire. In their haste, the tribe left behind two boys – one was blind and the other was unable to walk. The boys realized they would perish if they remained at the abandoned village, but neither was capable of escaping on his own. So they combined forces and developed a plan.

The blind boy hoisted the lame boy onto his shoulders. With the sighted child guiding the way and the other child walking, the two found their way to the rest of the tribe. The tribe created a special Kachina doll to celebrate the victorious escape. Kachina dolls are originally to have come into existence when families, clans, and tribes joined together and pooled their assets for communal survival.

As a professional speaker/consultant for over 35 years, I have viewed myself as a collaborator with various groups. With some of these groups, it has been a one-time partnership; with others, it has been an on-going relationship through the years. The groups have certain things they wish to accomplish and I have worked with them in my areas of expertise as a catalyst to help them reach their goals.

They have brought something to the table and I have brought something to the table. Through this work with different organizations, I have learned first-hand the importance of forming an alliance with individuals and groups to accomplish specific endeavors.

What are some ways you can form creative collaboration to help your team and, in the end, help yourself?

© 2013 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his A Strategy For Winning book and program. Contact or view