If we have learned anything in the past two years about business, it must be the importance and skills required to successfully collaborate through teamwork. Collaboration, in short, is the working practice that enables two or more individuals, entities or organisations to work together for a common business purpose, or to achieve business benefits or goals. The mere fact that team participants were geographically dispersed over a wide area during lockdown made room for increased technology use, adjusted skillsets for working in new ways and other developments required to navigate the new era of collaboration.
Early in 2021 my blog “Sharpening the saw”
prepared and stretched me to work with teams within my client base in new ways. The privilege of interacting with teams in different organisations and industries marked the start of an exciting journey. This path offered new learnings, exciting experiences, the opportunity for improved levels of communication as well as innovative ways of building trust relationships, to mention a few, but ultimately with the goal of reaching the destination – collaboration!
Types of Collaboration
Collaboration is not a new concept, however the way we collaborate has shifted into new territories.
These are a few ways that collaboration has changed:
- Team Collaboration – In this version of collaboration all the members of the group know each other, they know their roles and how they impact on other members.
- Community Collaboration – The goal is often to share knowledge and learn from one another, as opposed to completing a task together.
- Network Collaboration – This usually starts with individual people taking action in their own self-interest and then starting to contribute to the network by making themselves and their expertise known.
- Cloud Collaboration – This method of collaboration allows more than one user to access, read and edit documents in real-time and is great in big companies where teams are expected to collaborate remotely.
- Video Collaboration – This is one of the most common types of online collaboration tools being used today – offering virtual conference rooms for remote collaboration.
- Internal Collaboration – Can include several types of collaborative strategies, including discussion forums, microblogging and other platforms of learning within a company.
- External Collaboration – Refers to types of spaces external to the company where the face of the company is presented, including tools such as social media, blogging and other interactions.
- Strategic Alliance – This is a common form of collaboration between two or more companies that agree to combine their resources to reach certain goals.
Benefits of learning through collaboration
It is important to understand the different types of collaboration in order to successfully fulfil your role within a collaborating team. Having been part of a variety of teams and having utilized some of the techniques required to help people reach their full leadership potential I have learned a few things:
- Always be who you are, and contribute the unique value that only you can bring to your team, family, business, clients and your community.
- Own your place in the team and be prepared, enthusiastic and the best true version of yourself that is ready to produce the desired deliverables and results.
- Develop clear and concise communication with each other and be open to giving and receiving feedback regarding any related matter.
- Build trust with the team by delivering timeously in accordance with your commitments.
- Ensure that roles are clearly defined and not ever-changing, confusing or stress inducing for any member of the team. Clarification should be provided during the contract phase of the project and deliverables must be set out clearly.
- Cultivate synergy, coordination, and diversity within your team in order to benefit from various skills, experience levels, backgrounds, and cultures. Teams that do this are more proactive and use creative ideas to add more value to the organisation or community.
- A shared purpose will result in greater achievements and allows teams to access or to compete for company resources.
The list of benefits is much longer than what is noted above, and as we have worked on many collaborative projects and teams during my 17 years at Dodici, I have to agree with the words of Henry Ford:
Coming together is a beginning
Staying together is progress
and working together is success
I have always embarked on my own journeys first, before implementing my own learnings from these adventures as added value to my clients. This practice has enabled me to go through the process, ask the questions, learn, grow, be inspired, and to shape comprehensive solutions and rich possibilities.
Collaboration is the goal:
The Bible is our guide and God never intended for any one person to work alone. We are all different parts of one body, each with various talents and gifts to accomplish a valued task within a team.
- Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function – Romans 12:4 (New Living Translation)
Collaboration prevents burnout and exhaustion, by functioning through your strengths and recognizing that two people are better than one and that we collectively extract the best qualities in each other.
- As Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend – Proverbs 27:17 (New Living Translation)
2022 has already started with a bang, and I have set my personal and business goals for the year ahead. With an open heart and an open mind, I will focus on helping teams to develop and grow through providing effective collaborative tools and strategies and I am looking forward to this year – adding value to customer’s businesses, my own business, friends and family.
Questions to ponder:
- Are you part of a team where you can collaborate?
- Do you experience growth as you step up to the new learning?
- Ensure that team members feel safe to be themselves to be honest and to build trust within the team. Have you been part of a team where you have experienced the safety to do all of this?
- Are you comfortable to clarify your role in the team and deliver within those boundaries?
- How have you experienced personal growth while being part of a collaborating team?
I am looking forward to connecting with you to discuss your experiences of collaborating in a team.