Collaboration is perhaps one of the most unused strategies for achieving success, likely due to our upbringing. In elementary school, we’re taught to work independently, not to cheat by asking someone else for the answer, and every student is tested independently. Later in life, “group projects” surface, yet those are often an abysmal failure, with group members stressing out over who is doing what share of the workload. So it’s natural that when we arrive at our professional careers, we’re focused on our company’s success, and we miss opportunities to collaborate.
There are many activities we do in our careers that may seem like collaborating but are just a stepping stone towards building relationships with other individuals in our community:
- Volunteering on a non-profit board.
- Joining the local business leader’s luncheon group.
- Attending regular Chamber of Commerce meetings.
- Participating in a community steering committee.
- Being a rotary club member.
These activities are extremely important and beneficial but, left in that state, will do little to impact a goal. Instead, these are excellent opportunities to network and learn about people and organizations in your community so you can create collaboration opportunities.
What is collaboration?
Collaboration is a partnership. In collaboration, individuals or organizations work together to achieve a common goal. Whether the purpose is short-term or long-term, the parties are invested in each other’s success and contribute genuine effort in its achievement. Collaboration teams meet, develop specific goals, create implementation plans with deadlines, and do the work. They don’t just talk; they exist for action.
Five reasons you should collaborate.
- Collaboration creates efficiency. Take a look at all the nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and commercial businesses in your area. How many of them are committed to one or more of these common goals: improving the financial welfare of its citizens, increasing the education and graduation rate of youth, providing opportunities for youth to gain real-world experience, providing care or assistance for the aging population, raising awareness and respect for minority and BIPOC individuals, etc.
Yet often, these organizations work independently, with separate resources, competing for the same skilled labor force and duplicating efforts with each other. By collaborating, these organizations can work together, split up responsibilities to agencies who have a matching core competency, and achieve better outcomes.
- Collaboration breeds innovation. Regardless of how skilled and experienced a business or agency is, sooner or later, they will fall into a rut of doing the same things over and over. Taking a goal outside of your company’s walls and collaborating with others will spark new conversations and ideas for strategy development. Suddenly, you benefit from new perspectives and experiences to give life to plans to achieve the goal.
- Collaboration builds networks. You know collaborators because when you talk with them about an issue, they’ll arrange a lunch for you with three other people they know in the community working on a similar problem. The more people collaborate, the larger their portfolio of human expertise becomes. Your approach to problem-solving will change from “how can we accomplish this?” to “who do I know that could help us achieve our goals?”
- Collaboration means resources. You only have so many people working in your organization, and their skills and expertise are finite. When you collaborate with another organization, you grow the number of people who can work on the project, and they come with different skills and abilities. Collaborating organizations may also have different core competencies to achieve a goal; for example, one organization focused on low-income health solutions may be skilled at providing health assessments, while another is better at delivering nutritional training and information.
- Collaboration brings energy. Something about being on a team energizes its members to achieve a common goal. Collaborations often experience this same intense surge of motivation and excitement. Often that can be just the extra “oomph” you need to get a program going and start seeing the results you want.
Are You Looking for Innovative Strategies to Achieve Your Goals?
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