Each large or not that large organization needs one. This tribe is composed of people who have a natural ability to see different points of view at the same time, who can hold and contemplate the rationale of two opposite positions without palpitations, who aim at getting things done above getting things completely understood and settled; people who can bridge between strong feelings and strong interests, not all of them going in the same direction. They bring together A and B worldviews. They have not attended the Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Skills courses. They are the courses.
This tribe is scattered around the organizations. Some of these Brokers are sitting in project teams, or a Vice President chair, or in team leadership or managing the Post Room.
There is a trick. It’s hard to identify them by their physical appearance. There is no secret handshake either. Some are young, some are not that young. But if you think a bit seriously about the characteristics above, you’ll be surprised how many people know them.
It would be good to get to know them, to see how they do it, what it takes to be a member of the tribe. Oh! Another complication. This is not a formal Tribe with chiefs and Indians. Don’t mention the tribe. They may not even know that they have been born to it. They are a sort of invisible nomadic tribe, an anthropologist’s nightmare.
You can always rely on them. And you should. Tip on how to start. It goes like this: ‘Jim, can you help?’ But you could also, and you should, create these capabilities in the organization.
Try this. Imagine that interdisciplinary project team composed not by ‘team members’ but brokers. What would they need as training, for example?
Brokers are a mixture of organizational glue, oxygen, bridge builders, fire-fighters and distinguished ,non institutionalized members of a True and Reconciliation Commission.
How do you hire brokers? Find people who have brokered things. My suggestion is that you start by looking into what these people may have done before in the church, kids sports, social groups, neighbourhood associations, anywhere else in the Civic Society. This is of far greater predictive value than a product-business-development-deal.
Note deal making is close to brokerage. They overlap. But deal making is by definition focused on a particular outcome, a deal. Brokerage may or may not end up in a deal, it’s more the work of the engineer division building the provisional or stable bridge that can be crossed again and again and, perhaps, one day facilitate a deal.
The best Tribe. They are a gem.