“Collaborate” – from Webster’s

1: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

  • An international team of scientists collaborated on the study.

2: to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force

  • suspected of collaborating with the enemy

3: to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected

  • The two schools collaborate on library services.

How does Collaboration work in the world of business? Let’s hope it’s not definition number two!

Last week in our Transformation Tuesday post for May 1st we gave you eight tips for building strategic/collaborative partnerships. Now let’s take a look at the act of collaboration within our own companies.

Many of us have a picture of what an ideal collaboration should look like. Some think it’s diving into the middle of a collaborative process with their grand ideas of how things should be done. Others might prefer hanging back before they say a word. Some are encouraging of different points of view. Some don’t have the patience for a creative process to unfold.

Yes, I do think great collaborations unfold. I believe they are creative processes and rarely can they be pushed. This is often to the chagrin of business people who are looking for results. We business types want things to move along. We’re looking for answers, looking for better ways, looking for people from different departments to work together–now! And often that rush can short circuit the best work of collaboration.

The act of working at this level with different styles of people can be a little messy, too. That’s okay. Expect it. My advice is to allow collaborating to be as messy as it needs to be, but fully commit to the process and hang in there. Practice collaboration, make it a game, be playful.

And Leaders, listen up! You will get more internal collaboration if you model it for your teammates. You also should set the expectation that departments must get their heads out of their respective silos and work together. Remember, we are not going for definition number two!

An easy way to start any collaboration is to make a list of what our thoughts have to say about what we are working on, identify our emotions, and check in on what our instincts are telling us is the right action for the given situation. When each party reflects in this way, listens to each other in this way, it’s easier to get on the same page.

And speaking of pages, a final note from our website… pretty sure this was something many of us worked on together…

Customized, Collaborative, Visionary, Solutions.

That’s us!

Give the collaborative process a try–and call us if we can help.

By Mary Anne Wampler