This time of the year brings about thoughts of friends and family and I can’t think of a better time to talk about collaboration.
I have found when taking on projects and initiatives that there is definitely strength in numbers and two heads are absolutely better than one. Whether I am promoting a company or a region, collaboration is key. There are many ways to collaborate and there are many benefits of collaboration. Below are some of my top picks.
Idea Generation: As a creative guy and problem solver I’ve come to appreciate that when you bring people together to solve a problem or work on a project that multiple ideas and perspectives can be a real benefit. When running a business you need at least three experts. You need a sales and marketing expert, you need an operations expert and you need a finance expert. This three legged stool of expertise forms the basis of specialization, skill maximization and brings you one step closer to success (did you know that a three legged stool is totally stable – unlike a 4 legged stool it doesn’t wobble – test it out some time). I believe that a project needs a similar triumvirate of players on the team.
Share the Workload: Beyond specialization as mentioned above sharing the workload is a great way to collaborate. Ideally each task or chunk of work is matched to the person’s skill set. Basically you want to match skill sets with tasks as part of the collaboration process and have each member contribute with their strengths and the kinds of things that they like to do. Another great way to share the workload is to engage volunteers. I’ve seen this work really well in community and not for profit events and projects. I am also starting to see more and more volunteering happening in the for profit world. You would think that volunteering in the for profit sector is a bit odd, but if done well it creates a win-win situation. The main criteria is that the volunteer really needs to reap a benefit. The benefit might be experience and along with some form of letter of reference and or a more direct benefit – an intern is a good example of this. In my community there is a for profit cheese festival that has numerous volunteers. The volunteers get free admission ( a $50.00 value ), sample tickets, some SWAG – t-shirts, etc …. and typically because of the nature of the event the unwritten rule is that the vendors provide volunteers with freebie samples of cheese, wine, beer, etc… So all in all not a bad trade.
Leverage: Another benefit of collaboration is the ability to leverage resources, skills and dollars. In events that I have been involved in, we engaged the media to be judges at our events. Since the media feels a certain kinship toward the event naturally they create media stories that earns free publicity for the event. Sometimes partners have assets that they can bring to the table like a venue, supplies, or other expertise. Often if fundraising is involved one partner may be eligible to host a grant, where another might not.
Sharing Experiences: Taking on projects and initiatives usually involves a lot of work and some level of risk. There is nothing better than having collaborators to share your victories, challenges and defeats with. It’s always better to have somebody to high five, bounce ideas off of or to have a shoulder to cry on vs. tackle initiatives on your own. That kind of support goes along way to keep motiviation and spirits high.
Collaboration is the second step in my 9 Step Formula for Marketing Success. You can download a copy of my “Cheat Sheet” for free here.
Here are a few more good tips on Collaboration.
- Mutual Respect
- Promote Equality
- Focus on Goals
- Keep Things Positive
Another good resource for collaboration is from The Essential Elements of Collaboration.
In addition to strong leadership, successful collaboration also requires the following:
- Shared agreement about problem areas(s)
- Shared aims, values, principles about change, and improvement strategies
- Shared results and accountability for those results
- Shared commitment to monitoring results and making adjustments when barriers and problems are identified
- Shared information and resources
- Opportunities for risk-taking, new roles, and continued learning
- Democratized leadership and decision-making structures
- Shared commitments, expressed in inter-agency agreements, to needed changes in policies, organizational structures and cultures, and definitions of best practices.
What makes good collaboration? Here are 10 real-world tips for doing collaboration right.
1) Constantly clarify roles, especially in meetings
2) Explicitly state responsibilities
3) Be honest about mistakes
4) Go into the conflict zone, respectfully
5) Explicitly identify who’s responsible for each decision & how it will be made
6) Create an online workspace, together
7) Managers: Exemplify collaboration software use
8) Craft simple, outcome-oriented goals
9) Consistently review team/project goals
10) Discuss how the team’s goals tie into the organization
I came across a detailed web-site entitled an “Overview of The Bumblebees Top Collaboration Techniques”. There are some really good ideas on the site.
To cut to the chase they suggest that there are 3 Magic tips for setting up any team. It’s pretty interesting stuff and worth a quick look to book mark for later when you take on your next collaborative project.
What projects are you planning to take on in 2016 that involve collaboration? How do you collaborate? Please share your ideas and thoughts on collaboration in the comment box.
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Let me know if you have any projects you need help getting start on in 2016.
I work with companies on their marketing, lead generation and sales throughout their life cycle – from start ups, to expansions to exit strategies and the sale of the company. My clients are from the private sector and public sector including economic development and tourism based organizations.
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