Collaboration, it’s a word we hear often, but what does it mean?
We collaborate everyday and sometimes don’t even know that’s what we are doing! In my own life, working with the marketing team at TrainUp.com, I am in a constant state of collaboration. Questions are always flying around like: is this content written in the way we want it? Should we tweak this email campaign? Are we using the right social media channels in order to reach the right people? Everyday we are discussing, strategizing, and sharing our thoughts. Due to the strong teamwork ethic at TrainUp.com and the strong part I play, I’m inspired to write more about collaboration, the common misconceptions, and what the word truly means. Because for me, this process simply never stops.
When you hear the word collaboration, what do you think of? I admit, at first my mind goes to Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen, Run-DMC and Aerosmith, Florida Georgia Line with Bebe Rexha, and of course Cardi B and Bruno Mars. Yes, guilty, I do love music collaborations and my mind diverts to some of the top songs on the radio. I do have more personal examples to draw from however, and in this article I am referencing collaborations as they relate to everyday life in today’s business world.
However to understand what business collaboration truly is, you must first recognize what it isn’t. Many people try to equate collaboration to cooperation, however they are definitely NOT one and the same. Here’s the difference:
The goal of collaboration in business is to be informed and to solve problems. This requires two very important things: Feedback and Iteration. Without these two things, you are not talking about collaboration, rather you must be referencing total cooperation, or a blind allegiance to a single idea. Even for small things, like when we are planning to order lunch at the TrainUp.com office, we collaborate towards making our final selection of pizza toppings. I’m an advocate for pineapple on a pizza, however it’s sometimes an unpopular idea, but it opens up the conversation and brings forth feedback, maybe olives instead, or sausage? Then we once again look at our options and finally settle on a blended agreement that suits everyone’s tastes. Like I said, sometimes you collaborate and don’t even realize it! In this case, although pineapple was a delicious suggestion, it wasn’t what was best for the team in this situation, but in the end we all agreed on what was a rather tasty pizza.
Basically, the point is that everyone at some point has a “pineapple” idea of their own, or an interesting idea that is a little bit different and is either loved or hated. Not everyone will like it or understand it, but it’s important to throw it out there anyway. Who knows what other ideas it could inspire! So don’t be afraid to voice it.
In our music example, do you really think that ‘Walk this Way’ was the product of a one-sided conversation in the recording studio? Do you really believe there was no back and forth exchange of ideas? No pineapples? No alternatives? Perhaps Jam Master Jay and Steven Tyler got into one or two creative debates that strengthened the end result? Anyway, everyone with working ears can tell that from collaboration came something undeniably awesome.
For me, beyond what we order for lunch, I simply can’t imagine what projects would end up like without input from my peers. In fact, I don’t want to imagine this. If one person called all the shots, and not a single person lent a unique perspective, well, we wouldn’t be the innovative company in which we take so much pride. Suggestions make us better, stronger, more well-rounded and successful.
Prepare your pineapples! The reason being is that the participants of a group learn from each other through constructive criticism and unique suggestions. Part of what makes musical collaborations so interesting and appealing to us is the fact that it results in something we haven’t heard before. It’s often two very distinct individuals bringing something uniquely “them” to the table and working out how to knot those thoughts and styles together into something truly special. Businesses are no different. In the board room, it is vital to avoid “group think”, or a one-sided approach. Otherwise, you will never find that sweet spot where you find something new and create something different.
Think about your own company…
How do you make strategic decisions? How do you set up new procedures and measure success? Has anything truly innovative come out of your meetings lately? Do you use a tool such as DecisionFlo to help you manage your decision making? If the answer to that last question is no, then perhaps it’s time you stopped merely cooperating and started collaborating! Perhaps it’s time you became the catalyst for change within your company!
TrainUp.com is currently pioneering a very unique solution. We are always looking ahead to solve the common issues that business are facing now, and will continue to face in the future. If you would like to learn more about the unique initiatives we are working on, I invite you to stay tuned! Better yet, give us a call and see how we can collaborate together with YOU!