Effective collaboration can only happen when give and take are in – well, effective alignment. When all the parties involved are both gaining and sharing. When everyone benefits. As Aristotle shared so wisely all those centuries ago, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
For collaboration to work as well as it humanly – and there is a reason I use the word humanly – should, it starts with the individual. They need to bring themselves to the table with ownership of their own thoughts, a definite self-belief, and perhaps most importantly a willingness to share openly of their thoughts and ideas.
Only when the individual is congruent with their message, purpose and thoughts can the magic of collaboration happen. And it really is magic. An alchemical process starts when individuals come together of their own free will and begin to share their uniqueness of thought, adding to the melting pot of ideas and invention which results in the creation of a better solution to a problem, a new way to market, an innovation to a product. The team as a whole both share and create, input and output, add value and evolve.
Together momentum is initiated – and together the end result is often far better than when considered alone.
Perhaps think of it as the ‘hive redux’ – in the best possible sense. Collaboration is not about socialistic, non-thinking drones and workers, with a queen bee sitting in solitary splendour at the top directing and ultimately making decisions. Rather, collaboration is about inspired individuals who see the value in collective intelligence, in putting their best ideas into one structure to drive innovation and get the best result possible for everyone within said structure.
How do I know this? What makes so passionate about this topic?
I am facing a week of collaboration in action. I am currently sitting (in rapidly mounting awe may I add), in a room of thought leaders who are debating, learning and developing their own unique intellectual property. I am personally developing specific IP for a project with a rapidly looming deadline and whilst I know my thinking is continuously being improved through the collaborative efforts of my mentor, teacher and colleagues, I also know that I have to first own my thinking and bring this to the table, to in turn enable the magic of collaboration to take full effect.
I have to be willing to give, and in turn, open to receiving.
One without the other is not collaboration. One without the other is an empty statement, rather than a complete equation.
Togetherness – or collaboration – requires a plus and an equal sign.
Togetherness can, and does, create the momentum of greatness.