Commit, Communicate, COLLABORATE, and Celebrate.

Did you know Henry Ford spent a great deal of time bouncing ideas off his friends Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone? Man, what would it be like to collaborate with heavy-hitters like that?  Well, Mr. Ford changed our world through the power of collaboration. He said “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”  He capitalized on the benefits of bringing people together to solve problems and invent creative solutions.

Henry Ford must have been brilliant, but he’d probably tell you he was an idea-guy whose accomplishments stemmed from putting the right people together to collaborate about how to improve on what he had already done, and bring what he thought could be done to life.  He’s known for “not knowing what was not possible” and seeking out others with the same affliction, in order to succeed in ways the world had never seen before.  He knew with the right people working together to develop and produce, amazing things were possible.  He expected men to combine their intelligence and ingenuity to create the best possible outcomes for his company.  Henry Ford required collaboration.

So what is collaboration? It is working with another person, or group, in order to achieve or do something. It is “two (or more) heads are better than one” in practice.  It is accomplishing more in less time, because the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual.

Collaborative work cultures enjoy benefits like:

  1. Strong professional relationships rooted in trust; appreciation for individual strengths; and unity behind a common mission, specific goals, and clear accountabilities.
  2. Diminished risk due to detrimental blind spots as diverse thoughts, experiences, and expertise are capitalized upon.
  3. High levels of creativity with the development of the best possible solutions and plans.

I hope you are considering broadening your collaborative capabilities,  but first consider what collaboration is not:

  1. Ego building. Collaborative leaders and peers are generally well respected, highly valued, and trusted, as a result of their genuine interest in identifying the best solutions, as well as their ability to set aside their need to be right or “win”.
  2. A vague discussion, ending with no decision or action items. The point of collaboration is to bring people together and accomplish something. If no concrete, time-bound plans are made as a result of your collaboration, you have merely participated in another ineffective meeting.
  3. Conflict adverse. The heartbeat of collaboration is voicing diverse opinions, perspectives, and expertise for the greater good. This means objections and dissenting opinions must be voiced, and heard, in order to flesh-out the best decisions and develop the greatest plans. Collaborative groups welcome productively channeled conflict, as they know it will lead them to the very best outcomes.

I’ll close this post with another of my favorite Henry Ford quotes: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”  Go on now, see who you can collaborate with today!  I’d love to hear your collaboration success stories, please feel free to post a comment below or email me.

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