The Courage to Collaborate
For some, collaboration is in their DNA. Their preferred modus operandi. For others, working with others seems like a required evil. These are folks that prefer to get the job done themselves and not “waste” time gathering everyone’s input, ideas, and approvals.
How do you feel about collaboration?
Why collaboration is necessary, even if you don’t like it
Why is collaboration necessary? The simple answer is that we are part of a community, with disparate interests, so to get anything of significance done, more than one person needs to come together to bring their individual skills.
In short, the saying is true:
The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
For me, this becomes incredibly obvious when I try to do something on my own that I don’t have the full suite of skills needed to make it its best (usually graphic design). When I go it alone, I end up with sunk time and a sub-par outcome.
To collaborate with a team means you may give up some control, but you’ll get the best outcome.
Future opportunities are also greater than the sum of their parts.
Whether it’s tackling global challenges like the United Naton’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or the incredible opportunities exponential technologies provide, we have enormous possibilities in front of us which are greater than any one person.
This is why SDG number 17 is:
"Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development."
This SDG recognizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of the global system, and the need to connect, partner, and collaborate.
Yours and the world’s success (and failures) are interdependent on each other.
Collaboration Essential: Diverse representation
If you look into your world, especially your work environment, you’ll find it full of interdependencies.
You wouldn’t hire only one person to build an entire house. You’d want multiple talents like electricians, plumbers, interior designers. In the same way, you should use as many skills on your various teams to maximize creative problem-solving and project success as well.
One of our tenets at Be Courageous is,
“Anyone can create – Breakthroughs can come from anywhere.”
It very well could be that the person holding the hammer putting in drywall on your house has a cool idea on where the faucet should go.
When Be Courageous puts together innovation teams for our client groups, we make sure the team has a member from every part of the organization that could be called on to implement the solution.
Why? Because not only will there be the most skills and talent on the table, but when everyone on the team has a sense of ownership of the concept, there will be a greater sense of investment, ownership, and willingness to push the concept through.
So, beyond having as many expertises and talents represented in a team, what else can you do to create maximum collaboration?
More collaboration tips
Even if creating collaborative work environments doesn’t come naturally to you, you can learn it as a skill.
Set the climate of your project and team upfront.
(Here, we provide great climate setting prompts, as well as what to avoid).
It’s harder to recover a climate than it is to establish a good one at the beginning.
Establish roles and responsibilities in your project and meeting.
Typically in a meeting there is a “Challenge Owner” (the person who directs content and accountable for decisions), a “Facilitator” (the person who is directing the process), and “Resources” (folks who contribute their knowledge and ideas.)
Collaborating when there is disagreement
Undoubtedly, at some point on a team, there will be disagreements. Especially post-pandemic, we’ve noticed more discordance and emotional responses within teams. This is understandable as the world heals.
If and when your team argues or hits a wall and is no longer working together, here are a few things you can do to reset the climate in your team.
Explain the why.
Remind your team that without the ability to say no, one cannot have a committed yes. Know what’s behind the no or yes. If someone shoots down an idea, ask for the reason.
Accept vs. Agree.
Talk to your team about the idea that one can accept each person’s viewpoint, even if they don’t agree with it. To agree is to take on that perspective, but accepting is not having to agree. This helps people share without feeling “wrong” and creates an open-minded team.
More collaboration reset tips:
- Take an energy break.
Or lead an “excursion” (have people close their eyes and take them to another place and time.) Your team will come back with a refreshed perspective.
- Lean into the conflict.
Call it out. Say, “I’m experiencing/noticing a lot of tension here. Why do you think that is?”
- Maintain your energy.
Keep leading by setting the tone.
- Go back to basics.
Offer a climate resetting prompt (ideas can be found here.) Remind the team what the purpose of the meeting is and why you’re on the same team.
As you build a collaborative culture for your company and team, keep in mind that collaboration is about finding truths, not proving your truth to everyone.
Collaboration is a long play, but one worth investing in.
It’s not only about solving the problem right in front of you, it’s about being able to call on an amazing group of people to tackle the next challenge, and the one that follows, and the one that follows that, and on and on.
We’ve developed this Team Charter collaboration tool you can use on your next project or team meeting to bring people together and encourage more collaboration on your team.
Team Charter Collaboration Tool
Create the most collaboration on your team with our exclusive team-building and project alignment tools.
If you need any help building a creative, courageous, collaborative future, reach out, we are here to help.