The why of collaboration – that grand idea that brings us together in the first place – is all about purpose. Lokesh offers a set of steps for getting your purpose clear:
“1. What’s the business problem you are trying to solve?
2. Why do you want to solve this business problem?
3. Are you sure if the answer to the problem really addresses the business challenge?
4. So, what outcomes do you really need, precisely?
5. Why is collaboration the right approach?
6. Does the team have a clear and shared understanding of the purpose?
7. What does success look like?
8. Do you wish to create, nurture or sustain the collaboration culture?“
1. What I really like about Lokesh’s list is that he’s provided a heuristic / set of questions to work through. Number 5 is right on the money too – is “collaboration” the right approach; is that actually required for the current problem / opportunity (see #2 below) given the pros and cons of a collaboration approach.
2. Collaboration may be problem-oriented – which #1 above states – or it could be opportunity-oriented too (which is not stated). You may have a problem to solve via collaboration, or an opportunity to grasp / reach via collaboration. Both are valid.
3. My counsel is to jointly develop a sense of the answers to these questions in advance of starting, but not to go overboard. In other words, you need to know at the start what you (jointly) think you are working towards, and that collaboration is right … but the complexity of the problems / opportunities in business will probably preclude you having the perfect answers in advance. Either you get the perfect answer after 6 months study and then the opportunity is gone, or you get a reasonably coherent answer after a couple of hours / days, make a start on it, and keep talking / evaluating what you are seeing, what’s happening, what could be done, etc. In summary, it’s vital to have a sense of what you are working towards, but don’t expect perfection initially – otherwise you’ll never get started.
4. I’ve enjoyed listening to Paul Culmsee talk about wicked problems multiple times now … and as he says, “the notion of a well-defined starting or ending point is one of the characteristics of a tame problem” – wicked problems are more difficult / challenging. It’s worth spending some time on Paul’s site reading up on how he helps people / groups / organizations get their heads around wicked problems.