It Takes the Little Things

by Kevin Scudder December 03, 2013



In one of my first practice group meetings as a newly trained Collaborative Practitioner more than five years ago the thought came to me that Collaborative Practice is similar to a sports team.  To have success as a Team there needs to be good communication, accountability, transparency, leadership, effort, and more.  I refer to these as “the little things.” 


This thought was brought back to me recently when I had a chance encounter with a receptionist for a law office in Omaha, Nebraska.  It turns out that she had been a member of the Omaha Opera Angels, a girls’ softball team that my Father and I coached back in 1976, when I was 16 years old and my little sister was 13 years old.  She was the 3rd base girl for the Angels. 


Very little was expected of the Angels. My Father and I were not part of the “little league” scene, we did not have a great idea of the talent during the draft, and our methods were unorthodox.  Other coaches and players thought little of our Team or its chances for success.


My Father and I complimented each other.  He focused on hitting and  and I took care of the defense.  Rather than focusing on “winning”, or trying to prove the league wrong, from day one we focused on “Team” and the little things it took to create the possibility of success.  We worked hard, repeating over and over again in words and in action that if we did the little things well, success was possible.  We set a high bar for the girls, making no task or skill impossible to attain without hard work and mindfulness of the task at hand.


The Angels did achieve success.  Did they win the league championship?  No.  They did, however, lose on the last pitch in extra innings of the league championship game.   All of the Angels felt that they had succeeded.  The receptionist at the Omaha law office, at age 50 commented that the experience of playing on the Angels has stayed with her for all of her life.  As it has for mine. 


What does doing the little things have to do with Collaborative Practice?  I have my own thoughts that have to do with:


            Team Creation


            Our Clients


            The Playing Field (a challenging professional environment)




            We Cannot Predict an Outcome


            It’s Not About Winning


            A Star Player is Not Needed to Have Success


            We Must Be Willing to Have Difficult Conversations


            It’s All About the Clients


What other “little things” would you add to the list that increases the likelihood that our Collaborative cases will be conducive to creating the possibility of success for our clients?





*          This post is from an longer article called Going Home: It Takes the Little Things which can be read at The World of Collaborative Practice.

Comments (4) -
12/14/2013 12:30:27 PM #

Kevin, thanks for the new paradigm!

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12/14/2013 3:07:30 PM #

Thanks Susan.  My hope is that the post helps generate dialogue on focusing on the little things in our collaborative practices.  Perhaps you can have your practice group read this post, or others on, and talk about what you read at your next meeting.  I have found in my own practice group work that these group readings and discussions lead to a deeper understanding of the work that I do.

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1/3/2014 4:37:43 PM #

I was thinking about this very analogy the other day Kevin. About how various experiences with compatriots with common goals and specific functions and attention to timing can lead to great accomplishments. How practice reveals strengths and weaknesses of individual players and how coaches can use their place, stature and personalities in ways which encourage or defeat team goals. For some it's about winning and losing; for others it's how you play the game. Successful teams have fun in the process; put in the time; and understand that there is a heck of a lot going on which affects them that is not in their control given all the others involved on the other team and on the refereeing crew. Another thing is competition. When you are playing to win, we learn about competition; after we have made the team, while we are practicing, it is not time to compete; team building is the task at hand. Different times; different functions; different forms. Awareness of the task at hand; being present in the moment; understanding the differences is what makes the difference. A different way to divorce, that's what they are after.

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1/15/2014 10:35:09 AM #

All very well stated, Maury, and exactly what I was trying to convey in writing the post, and the larger article.  I know that in our posts and comments we cannot put everything in what we want to say.  The only thing I would add to your comment is when you say "understanding the differences is what makes the difference" that it also behooves us to "embrace" and "accept" the differences we find in the work we do, the "taking others where we find them" concept.  Thanks for reading and commenting, Maury.  Happy New Year to you and yours!

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