Effective Collaboration Workshop – TC Summer Camp 2017

Use your unique strengths to engage content collaborators

Does this sound like you? You need to engage with diverse professionals and personalities on authoring technical documentation, but find it hard to work with people that generalize, jump to conclusions, make changes without reasons, and race the clock? You are not alone. 14% of knowledge workers had felt like striking a coworker in the past year but didn’t, and 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work.

The chances are that your colleagues are among them. You may even be disengaged yourself. How then, can we fuel our teams with energy, inspire colleagues for personal growth, and encourage peers to contribute to a cause much bigger than themselves?

To get there, you will need to do things differently. You will need to find new ways of applying your talents, move communication to a higher level, and narrowly focus on the commitments for which you provide the most value.

Learn that you can achieve such change. You can begin with yourself because most people around you are disengaged. Do not expect action from them.

But you know that you are different. You are aware that if you don’t take charge, very likely no one else will. You have that special gift and a personal conviction that your team needs – and you want to put it to work. You are ready to initiate change in yourself and your team.

You will gain a solid understanding of:

  • Why people act the way they do
  • Your four unique talents that benefit the team
  • Causes of stress in collaborative teams
  • The most value can provide to your commitments

You will leave with concrete action items that strengthen your relationships and significance with your project stakeholders and boss.

This TC Camp workshop will challenge you. At the core is advice on how to connect and communicate more powerfully with your team.

Participants have significantly increased their ability to implement new learnings by taking an optional Kolbe A Assessment before the workshop. While you will greatly benefit from the new insights that you will gain in these workshops, you will able to define better action plans for yourself when you use your individualized Kolbe A assessment.

Get the Kolbe A Assessment

Registrants can purchase a Kolbe A assessment at a discounted price in advance of the workshop. (Neither of us, TC Camp or Andrew, are profiting financially from your taking the assessment.)

Here’s link to get the assessment: https://www.warewithal.com/kolbeindexes/?name_id=781361showre&indexType=A&

Session Details

Where: TC Summer Camp 2017

When: Saturday 9 September 2017

Workshop Leader

Andrew Lawless, Rockant Inc

Andrew Lawless is a best-selling author, performance coach, educator, and consultant. He is razor sharply focused on inspiring and priming professionals for success. He uses a time-proven and scientifically verified approach to boost team performance. Andrew helps you uncover your strengths and hidden talents so that working together will be easier and more productive than ever before.

Andrew brings a unique blend of experience in behavioral sciences, publishing, localization, and education. He served as a trainer and consultant to the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit where he helped analyze the mindset of hostage takers. Andrew presented his successes with improving global marketing teams to the US White House and testified before the US Senate on the importance of professional development in localization to the US economy. He is adjunct professor at the University of Maryland.

An Interview with Andrew Lawless

By Li-At Rathbun, the TC Camp Roving Reporter

Li-At: So this workshop is about effective collaboration. Why is the topic of effective collaboration—improving engagement with content collaborators—interesting to you?

Andrew: I’ve spent my entire life making good people better.

What gives me pleasure is not profits. That’s a business outcome, not a motivation. What motivates me is when I can look at a team or a person and see what I’ve inspired them to become, when they are fulfilled and have time for what matters most to them. That’s what excites me.

When I was in 6th grade, I got all Fs and was deemed “qualified only for special education school.” What happened was that I had developed juvenile diabetes and was nearly in a coma for 6 months. Nobody asked why I was suddenly failed in school and went from all As to all F. Instead teachers wanted to make sure that I will never have the ability to get a college degree. To this day, I am ambivalent about schools and its teachers. And at that time, I made the decision that no one that I can touch will have to go through that the way I did. Unfortunately, too many people at work feel misunderstood. Their potential remains untapped. These are the people that have my full attention.

Li-At: If this is a difference question, what attracted you to this topic?

Andrew: Most of my life—from childhood on—was all about how I can help good people get better. It breaks my heart when I go into organizations and I see people struggle. They struggle for 3 reasons:

  1. They have a way of working that clashes with somebody else’s.
  2. They have a set of natural strengths and their job doesn’t fit their strengths.
  3. Their boss requires a different set of natural strengths than that of the job holder.

Li-At: Who should attend this September 9 workshop?

Andrew: Everybody who works as a knowledge worker, needs to communicate with others, and wants to improve the quality of their communication.

People that went through previous workshops have called it a life-changing event. It’s very deep. I highly suggest that participants complete Kolbe A Index beforehand and come to the session with your results. I will introduce an exercise called the commitment clarifier – and your Kolbe A will be key tool to use it. That’s how you’ll get the most value out of the workshop.

[Editors note from Li-At:
Here’s link to get the assessment at cost: https://www.warewithal.com/kolbeindexes/?name_id=781361showre&indexType=A&.
Andrew is not profiting financially
from your taking this assessment.

In this workshop, I will:

  • Talk about your limiting beliefs.
  • Help you rewire your brain and turn limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs.
  • Help you understand the neuroscience and mechanics behind limiting beliefs.
  • Help you understand the framework, so that you can explain your own behavior and others’ behavior better.

Within these two hours—I will help you set the foundations for powerful change; to turn your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs and actions. But that’s where it has to stop, because we only have a limited time.

Li-At: What’s the one thing that all technical communicators should understand about effective collaboration?

Andrew: The most important thing is that technical documentation is increasingly becoming a collaborative effort that’s supported by technology (like GitHub—where you collaborate with developers), and we’ll also see more and more automation in terms of content reuse.

So if you want to continue to make a difference, it has to be on how do we work better as a team? How do we make a better product, or avoid things like having the terms in the screenshot be different than the terms in the document, or intermittent use of different terms for the same thing?

I’m also seeing that content authoring—tech doc writers—have a crucial position in R&D. Because they’re the ones, more than the developers, who can find the inconsistencies better than everyone else. And that’s such a crucial function and role.

Li-At: Okay, this is TC Camp. So my next question is, what’s your favorite camping spot?

Andrew: I hate camping. I can see why people are attracted to it. But my philosophy is that when I go on vacation, I want it to be better than at home.

Li-At: If you did go camping and could take one person camping with you, who would that be and why?

Andrew: My wife, Ann. That’s the one person I would like to be with every single second of my life. She is my source of strength, my muse and inspiration. Sharp like a knife, steady like a train. I hate being away from her.

Session Notes

Scribe: Chris Niestepski

Top Takeaways:

  • Job stress not only can destroy one’s health but hampers teams and loses clients.
  • It’s the manager’s job to task and team his employees according to their natural strengths.
  • Employees, in turn, can greatly alleviate stress by accepting other’s strengths.


  • Three sources of workplace stress:
  • Co-workers have different strengths/approaches
  • Job, or perception of it, does not match yours
  • Boss demands a different one than you have
  • Different skills in different brain areas:
  • Neocortex: cognitive skills, like knowledge, judgment; can be learned
  • Limbic system: affective skills, like motivation, values, desires; can be conditioned
  • Brain stem: conative “skills” like fight/flight and basic behavioral approaches; hardest to change
  • Negative behaviors like dwelling, gossip also come from primal fears of own failure or inadequacy.
  • Constant fear and fight/flight leads to long-term output of cortisol that’s disastrous for health.
  • In-born approaches can be changed but at great cost in mental energy.
  • Kolbe personality map has four conative types with three problem-solving behaviors:
  • Fact-finder: simplify, explain, specify
  • Follow-through: adapt, maintain, systematize
  • Quick Start: stabilize, modify, improvise
  • Implementer: imagine, restore, build
  • Most people combine all four types with one dominant behavior.
  • Opposites on map
  • have different approaches (systematic vs. impulsive, by-the-book vs. corner-cutting, etc.)
  • may complement with enough space, but are best not teamed directly together
  • What employees can do:
  • See conative opposites and different, not naturally wrong or unintelligent
  • Break away and exercise: body also shapes mind

Session Notes

Scribe: Carolyn Klinger

Stress (in this case work stress) is caused by working (or really clashing) with people with different strengths. Our limbic system, the center of emotion, reacts to this stress by creating cortisol, and this feeling spreads throughout the team. The limbic system can only feel. There is no language to express it. That’s why we need artists.

One of the biggest mistakes we make on collaborative teams is to assign tasks to the wrong people. We should not do everything together, completely collaboratively. Use one person’s talent to create the plan and ask another to look for ways to streamline it. Work independently even on a collaborative team.