Collaboration Matters

Collaboration: a key trend and also one of the latest buzz words. This year I set myself the target of writing a book about collaboration to separate the rhetoric from the reality and to explore how we might use our collective talents to create something better

I have been interviewing leaders from a range of different organisations and community groups that have been collaborating in new ways since the Christchurch earthquakes. Five things stand out for me so far:

1. Relationships matter every step of the way. Time needs to be spent at the beginning to develop shared norms, values and vision.

2. Technology enhances. Collaboration can exist without technology but the ripple it creates will be smaller.

3. Conflict. If there is no conflict there is no deep collaboration. Expect conflict, allow for it and deal with it openly, and respectfully. When you have a diverse group working together the richness of different perspectives will naturally create tensions.

4. Know when to collaborate. If there are few gains to be made, if there is a hostile environment, or if there are no relationships between parties then collaboration will simply waste time. Grow relationships first.

5. Leadership. Collaboration still requires people to lead. This is often through influence rather than position, but both are appropriate. In an increasingly complex world leaders must be able to navigate complexity, explore multiple perspectives and feel comfortable in not having all the answers.

Don Tapscott describes the need for change as follows: “This is not the information age. It’s an age of communication, of collective intelligence, of major collaboration, of major participation…driving themes are collaboration, transparency and sharing of intellectual property.” Collaboration is human by design.

In an increasingly ubiquitous world, professionals are being replaced by technology in areas that are less ‘human by design’. Leaders who can harness collective intelligence and grow relationships are less likely to find that they, and their teams, are dispensable. Collaborative capabilities matter.

For extra information regarding the impact of collaboration on education check out

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