Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Collaboration is a two-way street

A quick and dirty google search on the word collaboration turns up 90,200,000 hits this morning. Collaboration has become the cure-all for everything that ails us in these times. It's tossed about like a life ring to every sinking body. Grab hold! Collaboration will save you! And despite my skeptical tone, I think it very well could be the case. The key to making it so is not simply collaboration, but strategic collaboration. The starting point for strategic collaboration is not a survey of the landscape, it's a close and careful review of your organization's mission, vision, values, strategic plan and operational plan. Those organic documents will provide the foundation upon which to build your collaborations.

Look at those areas where you're not meeting your goals. Identify the reasons for the performance gap and think about whether there are potential partners that might help you fill it. Think beyond the usual suspects.What type of service, skill, product or expertise is needed to help you reach your goal? Who might have what you need? Who is doing it well and could provide some valuable insight and advice?

Now go back to your documents and figure out what you're doing well. What do you have to offer as a collaborative partner? Remember, collaboration is a two-way street. Know what your strengths are and be alert to opportunities that may arise in the course of your work. If you listen carefully you're likely to hear of needs that your organization can fill for others. If you begin to build a reputation as a proactive and responsive collaborator you're likely to find more opportunities opening up to you!

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