At the top-most northwest corner of Montana, nestled among dense forests of Douglas-fir, stretches a 90-mile-long reservoir — Lake Koocanusa. Before 1972, when the lake was formed, the Kootenai River would wreak havoc in this area and cause extensive flooding each spring. Floodwaters spanned across Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia. The United States and Canada recognized they had a mutual dilemma that threatened values which were important to both countries – the health and safety of their citizens. So, they collaborated to harness the Kootenai, creating the Koocanusa and thereby providing flood protection for all and harnessing hydroelectric power in the process. The name, Koocanusa, itself is a portmanteau of Kootenai, Canada, and USA. (Thank you, Alice Beers, of Rexford, Montana, whose winning contest entry named the lake.)
Collaborations Always Strengthen Strategy
Collaboration is what allowed Canada and the U.S. to create a strategy and solve a shared problem. Collaboration is also what recently brought our team to the Wilderness Club Resort located on the banks of the Koocanusa for our annual retreat. That, and some much-earned R & R. Here at The Wendt Agency, one of our core brand pillars is that we are a team of free-thinking individuals collaborating to achieve success. But what does that mean? Why is collaborating essential to strengthening strategy? (Read how we produce superior creative when we collaborate with our clients here.)
The answer is simple. Innovation thrives when teams work together to create solutions. Innovation, in turn, is what we bring in everything we deliver to our clients. Former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan Wardle, puts it like this: “The moment you can transform my idea into our idea is the moment you accelerate its opportunity to get it done.”
Defining Values that Inform Decisions
Incidentally, collaboration was a personal value a few of our team members identified about themselves during a Living into Your Values training exercise we participated in as a group at the retreat. Living into Your Values, created by Dr. Brené Brown, helps teams crystalize what they believe is important and teaches them to consider those values when setting intentions and making decisions. Integrity, growth, balance, and creativity were some other values mentioned in the session.
When teams can honor each other’s values, it allows for barriers to dissolve and collaboration to happen. That’s when teams solve problems and create magic, like building lakes between nations!