Creating Conscious Collisions


With COVID19 cases spiking again all over the US, it’s clear that socially distanced work practices will continue for a while. How are your sales teams prospecting and staying connected with clients and partners? Below, SRH’s Betsy Rowbottom, Dir. of New Business, shares a few ways she changed her communication practices.

Before joining SRH a few years ago, I founded a software company that focused on employment branding and leveraging culture as a powerful tool for talent attraction. At that time, one of the visionaries that I followed closely was Tony Hsieh, who was widely regarded as the godfather of creating conscious corporate cultures. One of the elements Hsieh talked a lot about was making room for collisions and serendipity. I think about the role of culture at SRH and my participation in its success. Lately, I’ve been wondering how colleagues practice safe social distancing and also create natural collisions? Are collisions over in the age of isolation?

The answer depends on how you see the world. If you believed in the power of collisions before, then you probably believe in them today. Just ‘how we collide’ has changed. We need to be more deliberate with outreach because we don’t have easy opportunities to see each other at the proverbial water cooler. We need to make more space for conversations and make more of a conscious effort to connect.

Here’s a few things I’ve added to my Quarantine Collision To Do List:

In February, Kadijiha Jones joined our team as SRH’s newest Account Executive. Under normal circumstances, I’d make an effort to get to know a new colleague when they join and take them to lunch, and set up last minute coffee dates over the first few months to hear about their life and share my experience/history about what I’ve learned working at SRH. When we started to work from home on March 12, those simple little meeting opportunities vanished. Instead, we had to intentionally produce the otherwise natural collisions, so KaDi and I have a standing meeting every few weeks, just to touch base. We don’t have an agenda (that’s what all of the other meetings are for). The purpose of this recurring meeting is just a ‘friendly hello and how are you’? Revolutionary, eh?

Another conscious collision opportunity: Embarking on an archeological dig through LinkedIn. Over the past few months, I’ve had conversations with previous coworkers and colleagues from 20 years ago. Since many of us are working from home, and our schedules have changed (with no commute), there has been time to reconnect with friends who we haven’t spoken with in many years. I’ve reconnected with people who have done amazing things in their careers. I’ve enjoyed hearing about their lives, families and how they’ve risen in the ranks of their careers. The meetings have given me some much-needed social time. And a few meetings have produced referrals for new business opportunities, too.

The last one might be a bit of a stretch from what we normally imagine from a ‘human-to-human collision’, but the idea that Tony Hsieh is talking about with collisions is that we just don’t know where the good idea will come from. So, in the world of practicing safe social distancing, instead of the serendipity of running into a friend at a bar, your next great idea might come from: books. I’ve been reading a lot more during quarantine because in a highly scheduled life prior to March, 2020, reading had become a chore. With less scheduled events in the evenings (ok – none!), I have more time to read. Reading for pleasure brings good ideas. Reading for learning new business concepts also brings good ideas. You never know where the next big idea will come from. I’m anticipating a lot more pandemic pivots will be revealed over the next several months.

Navigating these times hasn’t been welcomed or easy, but changing up what and how to do work has become necessary for survival (and our sanity). Crank that A/C.