Collaboration is hard. So how do you know whether the benefits outweigh the challenges? In this video we discuss the core challenges to collaboration, so you can make the best decision as to how you choose to collaborate.
- Collaboration is hard, but why? Well, there are five main challenges we have to resolve to get our collaboration to really work. Challenge number one, trust. Effective relationships are the foundation of collaboration. Without trust, effective collaboration is nearly impossible. For me to ask you to do something, I have to believe, to trust, that you'll respect my request and do it correctly. I also have to believe that you trust that I'll do my part correctly, too.
Without this, we end up doing all the work ourselves or waste time double checking every detail of each other's work. Let's go to challenge number two, attachment. This means you're so invested in your own ideas that the separation between your ego and your ideas has disappeared. This happens to all of us. We love our own ideas. I mean, aren't our ideas always amazing? Well, advocating for your perspective is good, but we can get too attached. When we're too attached, it gets hard to think that there could be another perspective that's as useful as ours.
It can also create an us versus them environment and if others question our ideas or make suggestions for change, it can feel like a rejection of yourself, making you much more likely to be defensive which is not good for collaboration. Challenge number three, clarity and alignment. To collaborate effectively the end goal must be clearly understood and it has to be understood by everyone on the team. Assess this in your own team for any current project.
Ask everyone to grab a piece of paper and write down what they think the goal is, why you're collaborating. Then, crumple up each piece of paper, place them in the middle, and read aloud each response. Are they all the same? Probably not. I've done this hundreds of times and have rarely seen alignment. This doesn't mean that your project is doomed. Actually, this is a good thing because clarity and alignment is something you can fix. Challenge number four, speed. If you add more people to any given project, it can slow things down, but this only happens if you don't have the right norms and processes in place.
Consider the expectations for communication, for checking in, for reporting status. These are all things you have to do when working with others and they can really slow you down, but they can also be tweaked and refined to speed you up. Challenge number five, technology, geography, and culture. I admit, this is a bit of a catch all challenge, but these things all contribute to miscommunication and delays that aren't related to incompetence or bad process.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen collaboration go awry because not everyone on the team is used to a certain technology, or because time zones make scheduling difficult, or because the team members in Germany approach meetings differently than the team members in Brazil. So we have five challenges to collaboration, but don't worry! Your team isn't doomed and collaboration isn't impossible. Just by knowing these categories of challenges you'll be able to diagnose why your team is struggling and anticipate future challenges.
This way you can be more strategic, get your team on board, and get back to working towards your goal.
- Solving collaboration challenges
- Aligning on a collective goal
- Analyzing the current situation
- Selecting the right participants
- Establishing roles and responsibilities
- Engaging support from leaders
- Making a visual roadmap
- Facilitating effective meetings
- Evaluating results