Beware the next time a colleague invites you to collaborate on a project: Unless everyone is aligned on a definition of collaboration, you may wish you’d used the time to get a root-canal instead.

One of the early steps with which we support clients is defining exactly what collaboration is: The act of dispersing power, where leadership flows to ideas (instead of people), and new knowledge is created.

Your team is collaborating when these criteria are met:

  1. The talent among all participants is optimized
  2. The knowledge or outcomes created were achieved more efficiently than would have otherwise been accomplished by fewer people
  3. Rapid ownership and alignment to plans is achieved because participants co-discovered solutions together.

Without understanding what collaboration is, we see teams make these 3 mistakes:

Mistake #1: They think social platforms will accomplish collaboration. Unless humans effectively use digital technologies available to them, all that’s created is information sharing (and often, more noise).

Mistake #2: They think they’re collaborating, but they’re really cooperating or coordinating their efforts. For example, the players on your favorite soccer team are not collaborating; they’re coordinating their efforts – led by one person who has all of the authority.

Mistake #3: They believe their collaborative efforts must end in consensus-style decision making. This is why some organizations go so slow, because the leader empowered to make the decision fails to end the collaboration and make a decision.

When your team needs to collaborate do they know what to do?

P.S. I’m excited to host the award-winning collaborative leader, Sue-Jean Lin, SVP, Chief Information Officer at Alcon, on our next Collaborative Leader’s Huddle. We’ll be having a candid conversation about what’s required to effectively enable a digital transformation. Register here and bring your brand of inspired curiosity.

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Activate Your Greatness.

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