Collaboration – a Key Tool for the Transition

Editor’s note: This is the sixth part of a continuing series on Tools for the Transition.collaboration

Confession time, I love collaborating with other people, particularly in 3 person “tiger teams” of specialists. It makes a social event out of work and it amplifies our collective productivity.

Creative thinking, collaboration and critical thinking are a related group of tools for problem solving.

Collaboration is working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals.

Key points of Collaboration

  • Working with others means dividing up the effort
  • A task – this could be big or small but a collaboration frequently starts with a task that is too big or complex for a single person.
  • Shared Goals – There must be a goal and reaching it means developing some sort of plan. Sometimes, the goal is a unique creation that would not have come about by either person alone (think duets by great singers)
  • The result of the collaboration is something that could not be achieved by any of the individual collaborators alone.

It is important to understand what you bring to the table. You have unique skills, interests and perspectives. They will work for some collaborations and they will be useless for others. This is not a bad thing, it simply is. Accept the fact that you are not the right person in every circumstance. Knowing your skills helps you…

  • Find others with complementary, not identical skills.
  • Others in the collaboration typically “fill in the blanks” by contributing their skill set which is different from your own.

Critical Success Factors

Here are some factors that are critical to the success of any collaboration:

  • Keep your promises – this is important with collaborations just as it is any other area of life
  • Roles usually change during a collaboration but everyone involved needs to understand who has which role
  • Start small, build trust
  • Communication is the lifeblood of any collaboration. Seasoned collaborators frequently develop a shorthand among themselves.
  • Success of a smaller collaborative project can leads to bigger projects
  • The more collaborators, the more important ongoing coordination of effort becomes
  • Decide how the benefits of the collaboration (like profits) will be divided. This should be part of the original agreement among participants

Most businesses, no matter how big they are today started out as 2- and 3- person collaborations.

What projects are you thinking about that require collaboration?

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