Introduction Highly Successful Collaborations
We often hear talk, in lofty terms, about working together to achieve a common goal in ways that conjour images of a Koombaya singing Utopian organization where productivity effortlessly expands. If we’re honest we would have to admit that when this happens it is an aberration, but it does happen on rare occasions.
Breaking through the barriers of competing interests, beliefs, perspectives and motivations is a challenge that is not easily achieved. So this got me thinking about this idealized and desired form of collaboration that results in stunning results, which may be best called “Collaberration”; because in my experience it is rare ("an abberation") and simply not the norm.
So if it is collaberration we want, with all of the messiness that comes with it, here are 5 key considerations that can contribute to enabling the kind of creative and productive environment where it can take place. These ideas are interdependent, and self-reinforcing of each other.
Vision & Purpose
There has to be a compelling and inspiring purpose to get people to reach beyond the limits of self, a purpose that stems from a vision that aligns their self interests and individual contributions to mutual benefit and achievement of the group's objective.
Transparency & Tolerance
There MUST be a desire and Tolerance for Transparency in collaboration, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable. Transparency enables members to respectfully dissent, express and resolve differences in opinion and build alignment (i.e., agreeing to disagree and move forward in a unified direction) This allows investment in the purpose, to achieve commitment and allow members to operate above board.
There can be no argument amongst our collaborators and directors. Conflict is inevitable, and necessary. We should assume we will be challenged by the ideas and perspectives of others whatever the position we or they hold in the group.
Disagreement and Contradiction are a source for Creative solutions. Compelling Purpose and the Tolerance for Transparency can help sustain the group through the conflict.
Finding Creative Solutions
Incentives & Alignment
If our collaborators are given the incentive to stand out from the group, they will likely undermine the cohesiveness that creates the composite effect of their work. Individual incentives can not be allowed undermine the group purpose, and need to be crafted in a way that aligns rewards and/or recognition with unique individual contributions that are clearly enablers to the group’s goals (i.e., those kinds of contributions the group would agree “we couldn’t have done it without them”). Transparency and purpose increase, and conflict decreases, the better this is done.
Enabling the Collaberation Effort
Execution & Results
If our collaborators believe in the vision, are given the incentive to advance the group objective in a way that is enabling of productive conflict and promotes transparency, they can create a stunning "collaberrative" results.
The end goal is to “work together” to produce something extraordinary; an outcome or product. The execution and coordination necessary to achieve that desired result are a byproduct of the points above, whether deliberate or circumstantial. The execution would be difficult as a goal, in and of itself.
Achieving the Desired Goal/Results