What is collaboration? In Let’s Stop Confusing Cooperation and Teamwork with Collaboration, I define collaboration as “two or more people working together to create something new in support of their shared vision.”
Collaboration is different from cooperation or coordination in that you collaborate around a shared vision, and something new is created as a result of your joint effort.
Is collaboration a problem-solving technique? . . . Yes. It can lead to break-through solutions.
Is collaboration a tool for innovation? . . . Yes. It can lead to creative ideas that lead to pivotal changes.
Is collaboration an attribute of organizational culture? . . . Yes. It can describe organizations where people effectively work across boundaries to produce spectacular results.
Collaboration is all of these – a technique, a tool, and an attribute – and you can find many articles and books telling you how to use collaboration for problem-solving, for innovation and creative, and how to embed it in an organization’s culture. But unfortunately, too often, the advice does not increase collaboration.
When done right, collaboration delivers powerful results. So why do so many efforts to increase collaboration fail?
Ken Blanchard, Jane Ripley, and Eunice Parisi-Carew say these efforts fail because people’s fundamental attitudes have not changed. They say that instead of thinking about how to get other people to collaborate more, the place to start is with yourself by creating a collaborative mindset.
Some people naturally have a collaborative mindset, but not everyone does.
According to research by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann there are 5 basic styles or preferences for how we interact with others around solving problems and resolving conflict. Some people tend to gravitate toward competition, others are naturally collaborative.
Certain people use some modes better than others, whether because of temperament or practice, and therefore, tend to rely mostly on those modes. However, each of us is capable of using all five modes. And even if collaboration isn’t your natural style, you can become adept at collaborating if you decide it’s important to focus on.
What is your own mindset?
Most people agree that collaboration is essential in today’s diverse, globalized, and complex organizations. Although you might agree intellectually that collaboration is important, it might not be your natural style. Don’t assume you’re really collaborating just because you think it’s a good idea.
It is important to take a look at your own mindset and beliefs rather than approaching collaboration as simply a technique, process or tool to be implemented.
As I learned many years ago from a sad, frightened little boy named Benny, the best techniques will fail unless they are integrated with who you are and what you believe.
This blog post was written in honor of the release of my friends Ken Blanchard, Jane Ripley, and Eunice Parisi-Carew’s excellent new book.
Collaboration Begins With You teaches people at all levels – from new associates to top executives – that each of us needs to promote and preserve a winning culture of collaboration. Busting silos and bringing people together is an inside-out process that involves your character and intentions, your beliefs and attitudes, and your actions and behaviors. When we work to change our own erroneous beliefs regarding collaboration, silos are broken down, failures are turned into successes, and breakthrough results are achieved at every level.
Collaboration Begins with You strips down the fluff and gets to the essence of how any organization can create a collaborative mindset for the greater good.