About Liz Williams, MA, MT-BC
I love helping people connect and do work that never could have happened without that connection. So often this
boils down to a single moment, a pause, the single, well-phrased question. Finding that tiny opportunity in a day already full to
bursting, and igniting a partnership is what I teach. It makes the difference between seizing the day and having the day seize you.
I call it the Collaboration Zone and it doesn’t take all day to find with an individual or a team. That would be counter-productive. It’s usually a moment, a statement or a question away form where you are right now. Helping people easily and reliably meet each other in that collaborative zone where time expands and work is play is why I started my own business 1996.
Making collaboration easy to achieve is what drives me. At it’s best, the collaboration zone is like a hot knife through butter – easier and better than all other options. I want to help people get the “labor” out of their collaboration and find the flow. Who said it has to be harder or take more time?
WHY COLLABORATION? WHY GROUPS? I’m a musician by training and I love studying and playing. For me, there is no joy like making music with others. At its best, you enter a deep playful groove where everything you do is a conversation that keeps surprising and delighting. At it’s worst… well, it’s still pretty good. When I left the world of music and slammed into the corporate arena, I was stunned at how deadly most individual and group interaction was. If there was a groove, it was being held hostage at a remote location and no one could afford the ransom. I could not believe people would settle for these endless gatherings of the living dead. Perhaps they did not know how good it could be.
Of course, I had to do something. Truth be told, I couldn’t stop myself. I remember one especially tense meeting with my supervisor and a very unhappy client, a senior manager in our organization. My boss was being antagonistic and the situation was getting worse. As always, there was food involved: The senior manager had offered us pretzels at the beginning of the meeting. I was the only one eating them. At the height of the tension, I threw a pretzel at the senior manager to illustrate an important point. The silence that followed seemed eternal. I could feel my boss tense every muscle in his body so as not to strike me dead. The senior manager had a stunned look on his face which made his subsequent howls of laughter all the more welcome. The meeting went much better after that and the manager became a big fan. (Sadly, my boss did not. Can’t please everyone, I guess.) I kept doing the unexpected and the effective until I had been promoted several times. I achieved a reputation for getting excellent work done in groups while keeping things light and fun. That’s the combination that best describes me: I’m serious as a heart attack about getting results, and about enjoying the process. Eventually, I hung up my shingle, and now 20 years have flown by.
I’m more obsessed than ever with cracking the code of collaboration. How can we enter that flow state even over the phone or when others are multiple time zones and cultures? How do we share author-ship the way musicians share – co-create – a piece of music? How do we hold on to getting results and having a good time doing it, the whole and the individual. How to recognize the magic moment to jump in and the one to hang back and let the situation unfold? These are the questions that capture me.
I want every interaction to feel as good as playing in a really tight band: that playful, challenging, creative, connected, and that magical. There is no reason we can’t have that everyday, every interaction, every meeting.
On the personal side I’m a big believer in living what I teach, so I’m growth- and learning-minded. You’ll notice that in my coaching and training. It holds in my personal life too; Over the past 10 years, it has been my privilege and pleasure to learn collaboration on the deepest level with my partner, Carolyn Foster. There’s nothing like a good relationship to shed light on all the dark places, and no gift so rare as a true companion on the path.I still play music with friends, too.
Want to know more? I’ve written several case studies that show how CZ is working for companies just like yours.