The Wow Factor:
The Power of Radical Collaboration at Work
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
The ‘Wow Factor’ is that feeling of awe and amazement that warms the heart, tickles the tummy and triggers feelings of interest and curiosity. It leaves us feeling totally alive. It is an emotion that can be stirred by our own actions or caught from others through emotional contagion. This is the key ingredient that makes positive collaborations powerful and the reason Radical Collaborations are so successful.
Individuals and organizations who adopt the Radical Collaboration (RC) methodology report that instilling a Green Zone Culture and encouraging Green Zone Behaviors result in better communications, improved project efficiencies and most importantly enthusiasm, purpose and energy. The power of the ‘wow factor’ is difficult to measure but its results are tangible and contagious. Who doe not want to be part of a positive environment, alive with enthusiasm and purpose?
Just recently, I was in the Netherlands conducting a collaborative leadership workshop and I read the breaking news that scientists had successfully captured an image of a black hole. “We have seen what we thought was unseeable” said Shep Doeleman, director of the effort to capture the image. “It’s astonishing to think humans can turn the Earth into a telescope and see a black hole, and still more amazing to do it with this team. That’s the best.”
Like so many others, I was thrilled by the news of this discovery and in awe to see the images that captured an event that had occurred some 55 million light-years away from Earth. I was equally thrilled by the collaborative effort that made this achievement possible. Two hundred scientists working together across sixty institutes and18 countries on six continents.
No single person, institute or country could have done what this team did. Together they were able to bridge political, cultural and geographical divides to connect an international network of telescopes, on volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, in the Chilean Atacama Desert and Antarctica. By sharing knowledge and resources, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration moved the world closer to discovering some of the deepest secrets of the universe while simultaneously demonstrating what is possible when we work together.
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration Meeting Nijmejan, November 2018
There is an African proverb that says ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I love this sentiment but I want to amend it: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together and have fun, feel energized and on purpose.‘
The Event Horizon Collaboration team showed us how Radical Collaboration works. Take note as effective teaming is fun. We are social animals, with a social brain. We long to belong and connect with others who share our interests, values and passions. Together we have the potential to add value to one another’s lives, solve problems and create deeper meaning and lasting connections. Humans have evolved to work together, and while it is not always easy, it is historically what has led to the the world’s most significant accomplishments: from landing on the moon to creating the internet to curing diseases. All of these success are the result of effective collaboration.
The black hole image is phenomenal but so too is the human spirit and collaborative effort of the Event Horizon Collaboration. At a time when we are increasingly divided and defensive, this team shows us what is possible when we come together. The shared excitement, joy and aliveness that exudes from each of them is a wonderful reminder of the the power of collaboration to enrich our lives with energy, passion and possibility.
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.’ - Margaret Mead
What else might we accomplish if we put this same collaborative mindset to work solving other seemingly unsolvable challenges? I challenge you to reach out, find some allies and pursue something that is important to you. Together, you can make meaning and impact. Together, you can experience the Wow Factor through the power of Radical Collaboration!
For further information about the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, visit
Event Horizon Telescope Organization
To learn more about Radical Collaboration, visit
Radical Collaboration For Women