Collaboration 101: What, Why and How.


For the next few minutes, I want you to forget how you currently define collaboration and push aside any negative or positive memories you associate with the word! We are going to start with the all important WHAT, WHY and HOW. What exactly is collaboration, Why is collaboration so damn important and How you can make it part of your skillset.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is collaboration?

More than just glorified team work …

Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together with purpose to achieve a common goal.

OK. Let’s break that down.

a) Collaboration involves more than one person.

b) Collaboration involves people working.

c) Collaboration involves a goal and a plan to achieve it.

It’s not rocket science, so why is it so overlooked as a skill needed to develop?

Perhaps it’s not that tangible. It’s easier and feels more “right” to list tangible skills such as coding, or social media or design.

However, many of these skills can be taught on the job – yet some people just do not understand the importance or value of collaboration. Yet out in the “real world” EVERYONE needs to be able to collaborate.

Whether you are part of a team of doctors, engineers or marketers … there is very little success that comes from working on your own.

Yes it might be a lot more convenient, you can work to your own time and not be hindered by having to liaise with others … yet the outcome will never be as strong as when you work together with others.

No man is an island.

By working together within your team, across different teams, or even with other businesses – that is where true success can be found.

This article itself is a super simple yet great example … we discussed what we wanted to write about in the car on the way to a meeting … Saara wrote the the first version, it was about 80% awesome and could have quite easily been published … there was nothing wrong with it. But then Lisa had a go at it and took it up to the next level before sending it back to Saara to finish off.

Neither of us were more right than the other … it was all about delivering the best content possibly for our generationYOU audience … so egos were left at the door and we simply focus on achieving the best outcome possible.

So how do you start to develop your collaboration skills?

Like many other soft skills or enterprise skills, collaboration is developed over time and with practice.

A simple way to get started is to build on the following traits which go hand in hand with being an ace collaborator:

1 // Awareness You are not the only individual in the group with ideas, opinions, feelings or a voice that wants to be heard! Be aware of the potential other team members bring to your group.

2 // Motivation You are solely responsible for motivating yourself, but part of being successful at collaboration and being a leader is the ability to motivate others, which will generally lead to a positive group work ethic.

3 // Participation What defined collaboration again? Oh that’s right – it involves several people working together. Which means you (yes, you), need to participate in the task at hand!

4 // Reflection It’s not all go-go-go 24/7 in the workplace – this doesn’t equate quality work. Instead, aim for 80% ‘on’ time and allow for at least 20% ‘reflection’ time, where you actually look at the work you are doing as a team and if there are parts which can be done better.

So there you have it! Tangible tips to help you start becoming a better collaborator … not only for your benefit BUT for your present and future team!