The word has become much of a buzz phrase over the past few years – time to collaborate with others – collaboration is the answer to all our problems and so on. The key foundation of collaboration is the reality that we are not capable of doing everything ourselves, we have not enough time, skill or budget available to do it without help.
This is equally important for a small business owner and leader or a director in a large corporate organisation, doing it on your own doesn’t work.
For me there are some simple rules to consider:
Can I do it on my own?
No – Find others that can help – Collaborate
Yes – At what cost? Cost in time, energy or budget? Cost in priorities, what else will I not be able to do because I am doing this? What are the sacrifices or choices I have to make in order to do this? Can I actually complete it to the necessary standard in the allocated time available?
Reality check here! Quite often the challenge is not that you don’t want to bring in other people, it’s the perception that by asking for help or bringing in others you become in some way weaker or less brilliant because you cannot do it on your own. Is this about maturity or just knowing what is and isn’t a realistic use of your energy and effort? As we get older asking for help in business becomes more normal as we know we need to achieve more and support is required, by contrast that doesn’t mean to say asking for support in our personal lives as we get older also follows, that is another discussion for another day.
Who do you turn to for collaborative partners?
When you go out into the market place looking for new suppliers for printing, training or recruitment, how do you select the supplier? Firstly, you have a clear objective of what you need – a job description, a work flow or clear outcome at the end for what the final product or service will look like or have solved.
Secondly, you start asking questions – asking colleagues in your network, interviewing candidates, vetting different approaches, taking references plus many other elements of research. All of this is done before you engage with the supplier. Without positive chemistry, along with trust and transparency you would never proceed.
For collaborative partners it is the same – failure to have clarity over what you want the outcome to look like and you will at best have a very bumpy ride. Roles and responsibilities are tantamount to the success of the relationship, recognising the shortfalls and weaknesses of the collaboration are as important as knowing where the strengths are. In turn this will enable you to plan how you overcome those shortfalls, in my experience ignoring them will lead to resentment and blame and eventually the failure of the relationship.
By contrast some opportunities come in from out of the blue, they are not planned for, they are not on the agenda or part of what was originally the goal, but still there is an opportunity to work with someone and it could be amazing. Pause – Big Pause! Entrepreneurial opportunities vs massive distractions – which one is this going to be? Clearly there is a great deal of ‘research and due diligence’ to be completed before any progress can be taken. Use your PowerTeam to help understand, digest and plan the way forward, serious pause and reflect, not all collaborations work and many of them in hindsight were doomed to failure before the first steps were taken had you asked better questions. I help people build PowerTeams, if you are not sure what one is or how to create one, then read my previous blogs on PowerTeams or get in touch for a conversation. firstname.lastname@example.org