It is a well-known fact that individuals and groups of people (large and small) benefit from better collaboration, although collaboration means different things for different people. To some it just means coordination, to others it is a stepping stone to innovation. Whatever your definition of the word may be, one of the easiest ways to facilitate creativity to naturally flow is to form meaningful relationships with the right minded people around you. This way when you are faced with a challenge (and you often will, especially when you are on a path of progression) you have more people to ask for help and it is likely that these people would want to help you out.
Innovators know that sharing isn’t just caring, but rather a key measure or reflection of success. In numerous studies conducted over the years, collaboration has emerged as a crucial characteristic of creativity, innovation and massive growth in nearly all areas of personal & professional development and industries. The singular genius who works alone is an extremely rare finding in today’s highly “connected” world. Today, the biggest breakthroughs happen when networks of self-motivated people with a collective vision join together and share ideas, information, and work.
But with each of these upsides talked about, also comes with some downsides – the chaos of execution, the ever changing nature and thus disruptive power of clients, the daunting task of serving solutions, the uncertainty of a dynamic, evolving, constantly changing path. Below I have summarized three key points to keep in mind while practicing collaboration that will help you enjoy numerous benefits of teamwork while avoiding the pitfalls:
Data and Facts are merely suggestions: When a group of people come together to share ideas there’s a higher probability that many, if not everyone, might get pulled to the center and be reduced to something threadbare. Don’t let the multiplicity of ideas at a brainstorming session taper out into a pile of mediocrity. Remember, the idea is to “think outside of the box”. So don’t be shy to challenge yourself and those around you to go outside of the known limits and boundaries of what has already been done. What’s already been done (facts and data) are suggestions, not a manual – not unless you’ve accepted them to be so.
Surround yourself with people unlike you. Find the people who can fill in your blind spots and help you with things you don’t know about. This means networking, collaborating and embracing individuals you may have absolutely nothing in common with. People that see the world a lot differently than you do. Gather the talents of those who can teach you and give you things that you cannot give yourself. This is collaboration at its best right here – in word and spirit.
Recognize the significance of the SME or Subject Matter Expert. With collaboration often comes a level of flatness in creativity of activities. This means, everyone involved is at some point in time, at the same level. This symmetrical attitude is good, yet we need to recognize the importance of expertise. As an example, you could ask all the people on your social network on home based remedies for a bacterial infection, but you would always go to a professional doctor for anti-biotics, and to an expert coach for strategies that will help you achieve more. Soliciting the opinion of members of the family and friends all have their place, but don’t stop there. When you’re building your innovation team–find the people that are practitioners of certain subject areas in the fields relevant to your initiative.
Collaboration offers us a whole new set of opportunities for growth, yet with its numerous branches of opportunities, it could often become complicated if not properly planned and managed. So be strategic in the groups you enlist and create. The challenge to achieve equality without regularity or sameness, variety without disharmony, cooperation without consensus. In essence, collaboration doesn’t have to mean groupthink.
My friend, motivational speaker, Strategic Intervention coach and author of “A Middle Class Dream” AND the ultimate collaborator –Kamlesh Thakur