Collaboration is an activity that can be found in every project. Every phase of the Project Life Cycle requires collaboration among the project’s team members or other outside participants to produce a result. If collaboration is something that is required on every project, then what exactly leads to poor planning and ineffective communication being the top reasons for project failure? Why do the same problems continue to persist after collaboration has taken place and the solution implemented? Below we will explore how to overcome these common challenges and how to collaborate with a purpose.
Collaboration with a Purpose
How do we collaborate with a purpose, and what exactly does that mean? Answer: To collaborate with a purpose, everyone involved in the process needs to have a guiding principle to help them thru the journey, which will then change the collective mind set in the collaboration process.
In Michael Wood article, “Collaboration: Requirements for Breakthrough Results”, he defines collaboration as “An intense commingling of ideas and inspiration shared by two or more people seeking to find solutions to specific challenges and goals that are innovative, practical and achievable within the framework of the organization/communities they serve.” This is the perfect definition to describe collaborating with a purpose. If we use the definition as a guiding principle in the collaboration process, as Michael Wood states, it is “creating breakthrough solutions; needle-moving outcomes, not those of the casual kind”.
The majority of our collaboration resembles this scenario: the team is brought together, the problem is defined, some, not all, individuals begin to participate in the discussion, a solution is developed, agreed upon and implemented. Sometimes, the solution implemented resolves the problem other times it is a band-aid that only offers a short-term solution and will need to be resolved again in the near future. If the principles of Wood’s concept above are followed, it will change the mindset that all collaborators enter the process with.
Effective Collaboration Process
In order to achieve breakthrough solutions and needle moving outcomes it is best to address the following three aspects below at the beginning of the collaboration process.
- Clarity. There are two main reasons why problems are not solved properly: the problem is not understood and/or the problem is undefined. It is crucial to spend time developing a problem statement with the team. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards a mutual goal.
- Participation. Throughout the collaborative process, many of us have experienced these two scenarios. Scenario 1: Half way through the process, the realization is made that certain parties need to be present at the meeting that currently are not. Scenario 2: Certain parties are present at the meeting that you come to realize are not a necessary, and sometimes detrimental, part of the collaborative process.
- Foster Participation and Ideas. You cannot expect to foster a collaborative environment that leads to high-level conversations about the solution without having a method to bring out the ideas and induce It is beneficial to determine, in advance, what braining storming techniques will work best for this particular team. There are a number of brainstorming techniques which can be used such as Nominal Group Technique, Idea/Mind Mapping, Affinity Diagram and many others.
Collaborating with a purpose, is an active process which goes far beyond the norms of what we expect to happen in our day-to-day collaborative environments. We now have a set of standards to follow that will aid in the development of a solution and a measurable metric to determine if the solution meets the criteria.
About the Author
Cerila Gailliard holds a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification from the Project Management Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems (University of Phoenix). Cerila Gailliard is the founder of Orchestrating Your Success LLC which provides Project Management services to help business achieve their business goals successfully.