ntr.v. col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates
1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
In business, especially in a world where you are building a business, collaboration is key. More importantly, focusing on the second part of the definition, joint intellectual effort, is monumental.
But how does one do this?
Often within our groups and companies, the intellectual component may not be equal. Let’s face it, some people at the table are just smarter than others.
So, how do you create equality within collaboration?
1) Assign based on strengths. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat at conference tables only to see people assigned portions of projects outside of their comfort zone. This is setting up failure.
2) Allow open and honest communication. Create an environment that allows people to express their challenges and discomfort. This helps with the first point.
3) Don’t throw away any ideas, no matter how crazy they sound. In fact, cradle them as they just may very likely become the idea you use. It also allows for people to really get creative. Remember the California helicopter story? No? Come to find out, helicopters are a great way to keep grapes from freezing in vineyards. The guy that first tossed the idea out was thought to be crazy….now it is used many places as a cost effective way to keep vineyards from freezing.
4) Always collaborate in a neutral location. The office of the CEO is not it. Neutral locations create a comfortable, non-threatening, environment.
5) Celebrate the completion of the collaboration and reward the winning idea. This will insure the group wants to come back again and again and will be open to stepping up. Rewarding the winning idea, not yours of course, lets all know there is value in ideas and their input.
Now, your turn.
How well do you collaborate? What would you add, or argue with here?