Collaboration – working toward a common goal
It seems some parties avoid collaboration, because they can’t see the end result. They wonder if it will be worth the effort to come together and organize an alliance. They speculate if it will take more time and exertion to achieve the goal, than if they tackled it alone.
These concerns have validity. Collaboration may not be the right approach if it won’t add value. Yet, how can one predict the outcome of collaboration? Rather than walking by faith alone, it is best if parties get together to openly discuss collective goals, declare self interests, and identify barriers to success. Determine if the objectives can be reasonably accomplished.
Although, collaboration simply means to work jointly toward a common objective, the integration of imagination, intelligence, and influence from each collaborator can offer more impact than if attempted on one’s own! It would be a shame to forfeit the potential gain of working together. Often, evaluating opportunity cost is a tricky decision.
Part of collaboration is sharing the workload. Try to divide the work into logical, manageable portions that include written roles and responsibilities. Determine what resources will be shared and who will absorb the costs. Do parties deem the agreement as fair? A letter of commitment, terms of reference, or formal contract are concrete ways to record the arrangement. These types of documents are adaptable and can be adjusted according to need.
What eventually unfolds is a descriptive action plan. Components of the plan might include defining the structure, assigning authority, establishing roles, identifying resources, and creating a communication strategy. The alliance’s progress should be documented along the way. Log all achievements and setbacks, including one another’s experience. This helps to evaluate the collaboration.
A communication strategy helps to limit role confusion. Feeling disorganized or underinformed can lead to conflict. Keep conflict at bay by using reliable communication methods. Effective communication is often overlooked as a key ingredient of collaboration. Communication goes both ways, so be sure to incorporate formal and informal mechanisms for outgoing and incoming messages. Assign someone to respond to inquiries.
Respecting one another’s input helps to build trust. Trust is a human emotion that is not doled out frivolously! It will take time during the collaboration to develop a working relationship and see results. Unknowingly, everyone brings their human factor to the table. No two parties approach their role in the same way. Allow personality and professionalism to take form. If there are rapport difficulties, then address them early. Remember that everything can be overcome and that the collaboration is not forever.
Combining efforts is seldom easy. Forming a new collective involves several aspects. Synergies work best when parties develop a level of understanding and respect. Suitability and trust form a sturdy foundation averting a hollow relationship.
Collaborations consume a lot of time and resources, but can yield a remarkable bounty. Constructively, bring together people and harness the power of collaboration. It is the best strategy to consider, especially when an organization recognizes that it does not have all the answers to a problem.