collaborationA team’s ability to truly collaborate on an opportunity or a complex problem is a tremendous competitive advantage. It’s one of the skills most often identified as a development need for teams comprised of really smart people, especially if they have very different backgrounds. And yet, really smart people with different backgrounds and ways of seeing the world are the perfect mix to solve big problems or create new, big ideas.

I love working on new, big ideas. I’ve done so on my own and with teams. I’ve worked on big stuff under pressure and with zero pressure. I love the work.

But, in reflection, I have to admit that I am not always a good collaborator. I want to collaborate. But I can get stuck, especially when—

  1. I am very knowledgeable about the topic, and definitely when I see myself as the most experienced of the group. I tend to talk too much and with too much authority.
  2. The stakes are high—when mistakes have big consequences and the rewards and recognition are personally important. The stakes might be high for everyone, but I can unconsciously assert my views because I have a lot to gain or lose.
  3. When I am in the lead—I’ve go the decision power. I’m not a power junky. But, when I feel accountable and vulnerable, I can hold onto what I think is the right answer.

Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to myself in collaborative meetings. And, I can catch myself when I get off track. Or, I can anticipate or set the meeting up so that collaboration occurs. Why go through that personal management? Here’s my definition of collaboration, indicating the overarching purpose:

Collaboration of two or more people uses the critical thinking of all to get the best outcome, often unexpected or unanticipated.

I want the  remarkable result that is simply not possible if I do all the thinking. It’s that simple.

On what are you working that you need a more diverse set of information, ideas, and insights? Are you interested in some ways to elicit better collaboration on your team(s)? I’ll be sharing some of my ideas in the next post.