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6 Fundamentals of Effective Collaboration

In my last post, I framed a definition of collaboration, but it left many questions unanswered. For example, what would effective collaboration look like?

Here are my secret sauce ingredients. I see these as key factors for driving effective collaboration:

Engagement. To me, it starts with listening, being in the moment. Active listening and engagement is necessary to establish rapport and trust.

Keeping it Real (being Authentic). We must always expect authenticity across collaboration efforts. We have to be who we say we are and not “role play” to expectations or false projections.

A Bias for Learning & Discovery. I’m curious, so I model that behavior in groups. I ask “why” pretty often. Personally I seek to resolve ambiguity, but I’ve learned (via blog comments) that I can also use conflicting semantics to surface new perspectives and to expand horizons. Later: more on cultures of learning.

Respect for Community Members. To collaborate, I seek out others with similar interests and (preferably) greater knowledge than my own.  Most are busy. They don’t have to be there. So I respect the value of member contributions and their time.  It’s important to feel as if you need to earn a seat at the table; that changes your point of view.

Driving a Positive Vibe. We all want an upbeat work dynamic. It’s more fun to have fun, after all. Though culture is often hard to define, I find that it is a key factor in the way people behave. Leaders are called upon to model desired behaviors, so they play a key role in creating an environment conductive to collaboration. Incentives can help, but with collaborative teams, sometimes the only incentive is the value of insights or friendships gained by being there.

Focus on Results. I like to champion real outcomes. I’m the guy who says, “ok fine, so what are we going to DO about it?” I annoy people with that, but it’s important. Where can we take the group’s insights? How can we apply them?

Do these aspects resonate with you? Share a story. I’d like to know your perspectives.

I’ve been grappling with collaboration for a couple decades now, usually in the context of IT projects in corporate silos that seems designed to shut down cross-functional collaboration.  The hardest part was watching talented people lose motivation in the midst of their best efforts to overcome resistance.

I think it’s going to be different now.  In the new 2.0 world, social technology amplifies the collaborative trend, accelerates its impact and expands its reach. We need to understand and embrace the steps above if we hope to survive, let alone compete, in the Knowledge Economy. Hold on tight. In a world of exponential growth trends, 2010 should rock WAY more than 2009.

So it’s back to the rodeo, I suppose.

A quick thank you to my friends at #SMCHAT who have been instrumental in helping me learn and frame many of these collaboration concepts in a 2.0 context.  It’s been a  journey of discovery.  In a sense, it’s a journey that’s led me to TalentCulture. I participate in many communities besides TalentCulture, including #SMCHAT and #ECOSYS. My motivation?  I’ve learned that if you hang around smart people long enough, eventually, something will rub off.

Here’s hoping. Rest assured, I’ve been taking copious notes.

Originally posted by Chris Jones, a TalentCulture contributing writer. He is an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, with a passion for driving new levels of engagement and learning in the modern organization. His research areas include the dynamics of organization culture, and more recently, the importance and implications of critical thinking. Check out his blog, Driving Innovation in a Complex World, for more.

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