Hello dear friends and colleagues,

Two quick thank yous – firstly for those of you who entered or encouraged others to enter my first competition. Secondly, to those who responded to my last Blog which focused on “Listening to your body”; it certainly struck a chord with many of you.

This edition’s theme introduces the idea of “Encouraging collaboration”. I am sure you will find it interesting and useful – feedback and comments always welcome. It will only take about 3 minutes to read. Enjoy!

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To be simple and direct I am encouraging you to collaborate more!

What is collaboration?

Collaboration is a when people work together to achieve a shared task or goal. It infers working together intellectually, rather than just physically doing something. It is perhaps more than cooperation, which often is helping someone else with their goal.
Collaboration is a deeper collective endeavour, perhaps more creative or intellectual in approach, to reach an identical goal. It may require leadership, but probably as an egalitarian partnership rather than a dictatorial leader.
Of course, it is a good example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

What collaboration is not!

Here I am not talking about the new negative use of the word collaborator – as in “someone who helps a foreign occupier”.
Linguistically collaboration implies a fairly equal partnership.
Whilst it could theoretically reduce the focus on other urgent or priority tasks; that is not a weakness of collaborating, but more a case of poor management decisions!

Why collaborate?

May I propose a few initial ideas on why this is a good thing. Please let me know if you think of anything else.
* It is a creative and enjoyable way of working.
* It can be a strong way of bringing together parties who would not normally work together, to achieve a mutual goal.
* It can be used in a wide variety of life situations, not just business (see examples).
* It can reveal access to greater resources, and produce clearer recognition and rewards. That could be reason enough on its own!
* It can connect both teams and individuals within those teams benefitting all parties, and so encouraging other similar approaches in the future.
* It can assist analysis and understanding to improve behaviour and communication.
* It can enable mutual problem solving by sharing different styles and tools.
* It could be a great way to work when there is more than two parties.

Examples of collaborative fields:

* Social or family events, for example planning and delivering a special birthday party or street party.
* Business is the most obvious arena we would consider this approach to be prevalent in. It is especially evident in Project Management where some tasks would simply not be completed to TQC (Time Quality and Cost) without collaboration. Collaboration can be used within a team or department, and within a company but across departments. In addition it could be used by a company working with other stakeholders (including clients of course). More commonly these days it is used by businesses, especially SMEs, to deliver works or projects they may not be able to deliver on their own.
* Education and academia  projects e.g. the European Schools Comenius Project which linked teachers and pupils across various countries.
* Science, especially medicine and technology, have many examples of breakthroughs derived from a collaborative approach.
* Politics with coalitions; although you may have to look elsewhere in Europe where this type of government has a longer history and clearer successes. It could be argued that not all of these are truly collaborative and often there are conflicting manifestos and agendas.
* Art – especially music and entertainment where great works have been produced.

The future?

In my experience, especially in the business arena, collaboration is growing. Howard Rheingold suggests that we may be entering a new era where collaboration is a better way for humans to work (you may want to see his internet presentation on TED Talks).

Once the goal has been achieved it can be great fun, and a justified reward, for the parties to celebrate together. And celebrating does not have to cost a lot of money – but the recognition and fun can be a huge motivator to succeed again!

So my challenge to you today is how (not if) will you collaborate more? I would love to know what you come up with!
Just how could you make use of the points raised to improve your life, work or business?

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