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I’ve been thinking about collaboration and synergy for the past couple of months.  It seems that both words are misused on a regular basis.  Because they’re misused they have taken on a negative meaning with many.

We see words that could be good be coopted by those who like to speak in jargon.  Once a word moves into the world of jargon it takes on a life of its own.  That life is usually one that’s not very positive.

Collaboration and synergy mean cooperation.  Cooperation is a place where magical things happen.  When we cooperate on solving a problem, we often come up with solutions that are new, novel, and exceed everyone’s expectations.

When we use collaboration and synergy in a manipulative way we still live in the world where I win and you lose.  Or, my idea is adopted and your idea is thrown away.

Collaboration and synergy don’t mean compromise.  Compromise is just a term that means we all lose.  When I listen to news commentators say, “why doesn’t Congress just compromise”, it means to me why don’t we just adopt the worst ideas possible. 

Those who think that collaboration means compromise don’t know what collaboration is all about.

For me collaboration and synergy means finding a better way.  We start with what we’re trying to accomplish.  From there we ask those we’re working with why this is important?  Often we’ll go back to what because our answer to why poses a different issue.  Finally we’ll get around to talking about how we’ll get a particular outcome accomplished.

Collaboration and synergy require trust.  When you truly collaborate you must trust that those you’re working with all going towards a higher goal.  It can’t be about what’s best for me.  It has to be what’s best for us. 

I believe that it’s time we start thinking about us and stop thinking about me.  If we concentrate on us there’s plenty to go around.  It’s when we concentrate on me and my ideas that we get stuck, end up in compromise, and everyone loses or someone wins and someone else loses.

What are your thoughts about synergy and collaboration?  Do you consider them words that you want to stay away from?  Or are you interested in having a cooperative answer where we build a better answer than anyone thought possible?

Josh Patrick

I’ve put together a mind map on what I call passive ownership.  This is where you change your relationship to your business and become strategically focused.  Strategic focus requires that you work cooperatively with others.  Click on the button to go to our sign up our mind map.


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Topics: communication, business relationship management, Strategic Thought, collaboration

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