Collaboration: Getting to Us!

My friend Dave Summers, over at his blog Busted Missive, mused about collaboration and innovation: "My own personal experience has taught me that collaboration can sometimes work. But frequently, forced, or stressed collaboration can work against innovation. People get defensive about their ideas, they're less willing to share."

Why is collaboration so hard to do some of the time?

I believe Dave is on to something when he mentioned about forcing it. You can't force people to join up, share, and work together (my definition of collaboration, BTW). They will do it if they want to do it.

But many times, people on a team don't want to. "I don't wanna. You can't make me" is their mantra. Yes, they are nominally part of the team, but they don't buy it, don't act it, and aren't planning on changing any time soon.

I'm reminded of a time when my 24 year old son Kevin was a wee tot and he got into a fight with a playmate over a toy that both wanted. My wife patiently said that he needed to learn to share. Through his tears, he cried, "Sharing is not my favorite thing to do."

"Out of the mouths of babes" sometimes comes a useful insight. Sharing. So simple, so basic. Something we all learned about when we were little. But did we take it to heart? And do we do it when we are on a team?

What does it take to start collaborating? Here are a few ideas:

S = Stop Competing: The people on the team with you are your friends, not your enemies. You're on the same side. You are all in the same boat. It's time to pull together, rather than pull apart.

H = Help Each Other: In today's organizations, everyone is overloaded and stressed out. Keep an eye on your teammates. Could one of them use an assist? Your attentiveness will be appreciated.

A = Ask for Input: Ask your teammates for ideas on the tasks and projects you are undertaking. They will feel good that you asked.

R = Reinforce the Team: Yes, every team is comprised of individuals, each with a role to play. But the team can be more than the sum of the parts. Teams can synergize and do great things. How do you think we first got to the Moon?

E = Energize Yourself: Shift your attitude from Me to We. Collaboration is about Us. Start thinking about the possibilities in what We can do together!

The legendary baseball player Babe Ruth nailed it when he said, "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."

What could your collaboration be worth?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday June 24, 2011. For more ideas on collaboration, team work, and building successful teams, contact Terry and invite him to speak to your group. Terry Seamon is a Learning & Organization Development consultant with Facilitation Solutions, a training and organization effectiveness practice based in New Jersey. He has designed and delivered training for his clients on leadership, coaching, engagement, managing, communication, customer service, conflict, stress, teamwork, and change, and has written extensively on these and many other topics. Invite Terry to your organization to speak with your teams. Call today and discover how Terry can help you achieve your goals: 732-246-3014.


Dave Summers said…
I'm not such a curmudgeon, thx for the tips T!
Thanx for these tips. Will help me in my future studies and business. Its a great blog.

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