If you read any management literature you’re going to see how important collaboration is in a successful organization. I agree, collaboration is important. At the same time it seems awfully hard to do. I wonder why that’s true?
I bet you’ve been frustrated when you tried to collaborate with others. In fact, I bet most of the time if you get to cooperation you’re pretty happy. There has to be a better way to move from being a lone ranger to working in a collaborative environment.
We’ve been taught that being a lone ranger makes you better.
I think one of the reasons collaboration is difficult is because of the way we’re educated, what we see on TV and in the movies. We see a tough individual who conquers all with no help from others.
Here’s a secret that I bet you know. No one makes it on their own. In our goal mapping process we have a whole section on who we need for help. You might think of those who are going to help as collaborators. Some of them will be family members, some friends and some paid advisors. The key is knowing who can help and asking for the help you need.
We often want others to do it our way.
If you’re in a peer situation and you’re trying to get a project done you’ve had times where you get frustrated because no one is listening to you. I get this, we all have ideas that we’re sure are right but for some reason no one seems to want to listen.
This is where asking good questions come into play. The better the question you ask, the higher the chance that others will join you in the direction you want to go. You might even learn that someone else has a better idea than you. Go into the conversation with a beginners mind. It’ll help you find a way that works.
It’s often the third alternative.
You want to do a project your way and the others want to solve the problem their way. This is something we see in Congress and it causes a gigantic traffic jam where nothing gets done.
If you ask whether there’s a different way, there’s a good chance you’re going to move past stalemate right to collaboration. When you have a position you’re defending, it’s unlikely you’re going to change your mind or even listen to other ideas. The same is true with others you’re working with. The third alternative will often get you to work together. Give it a try.
Start with your family.
You might be thinking that you really don’t want to try this with strangers. Why don’t you try it out with your family? Next time you and your significant other have a disagreement look for a third alternative. I bet you’ll find that you start automatically collaborate with each other.
Your family is where you get to practice. It’s OK to look a little foolish. They’ll understand and you’ll start learning the skills it takes to become a great collaborator.
You need to talk and you need to trust.
Collaboration is not only about talking it’s about listening as well. The better you listen, the higher chance you’ll have at understanding where other people are coming from.
Trust is really the magic sauce in collaboration. The people I collaborate the best with are the ones I have the highest level of trust. I trust they’re good at what they do. I trust they will do things when they say they will. I trust that they’ll have my back if I make a mistake. All three are part of what makes a great collaboration.
What do you think? Are you willing to take a risk and collaborate with those you know that love you? The benefit is really worth it.
I love mind maps as a way to communicate. One of the most collaborative tools we use with businesses is our performance-coaching program. I’ve put together a mind map that shows how this work. It fits in with putting together more collaboration in your life. Instead of looking back you get to look forward. Let me know if you find this mind map useful.