It’s a long way to the other side of the river. How will I get there? I can’t swim that far and there’s no boat. What can I do?
Ah, here comes someone else. Maybe he has a boat. No? Hmmm.
But he has to get to the other side, too.
Wait, here comes someone else. Maybe she can help.
No, she doesn’t have a boat, either.
I tell them about my idea to build a raft, but I can’t do it alone.
They love the idea.
The great news is that the new girl knows how to build a raft, so we talk about her plan and then adapt it so it’s strong enough to hold the three of us.
The man on our team is strong. He sets off to gather the materials we need to build a raft.
Together we assemble to raft and float it to make sure it’s safe before we get on. Then off we go.
And did I mention, I know how to steer the raft? Together we’re strong enough to fight the current and get to the other side.
Well it’s true. It worked. We pulled together to get what we wanted. We collaborated and succeeded. We made it safely to the other side.
That might be a simple story but it’s still a great example of the way a collaborative team can succeed against the odds. These four things worked for them:
- Clear goals – they all wanted the same thing.
- Individual strengths, roles and responsibilities – each knew how they could contribute and did so willingly
- Good communication – they shared their ideas and information with each other.
- Willingness to consider new ideas – the team mates listened to each other and assessed each idea as it arose.
How do you encourage collaboration within or between your teams?
- Set clear goals and make sure they are understood. A big part of this is explaining why the project is important. The team needs something real and meaningful to strive for.
- Build a cohesive community, not just a team. Spend time together because not only does this help people get to know each other and discover the skills of the group, it builds trust. When you’re part of a community, you stick together and look after each other.
- Encourage new ideas. Acknowledge creative ideas and make sure your team knows you’re willing to let them take risks – failure is a step closer to a solution.
I always encourage my clients to model the behaviours they want their team to adopt. Leaders are the trendsetters so shape the trend you want to see. Start the collaboration and your team will follow.