Collaborative relationships are now widely accepted as an incredibly effective way of working with others.
This is when two or more people (or organisations) join forces; coming together to work jointly in a united effort to realize, in a determined manner, an identical shared goal.
But why collaborate? Co-operating with others makes perfect sense. Working collaboratively can mean the partners can attain superior results, achieving greater outcomes than working as individuals in isolation.
As they say “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”. Collaborations allow for greater results and reward for the finite resources.
These collaborative relationships may or not be teams. Let’s be realistic, how many actual team members come together “to work jointly in a united effort to realize, in a determined manner, an identical shared goal”.
Team members are typically thrown together (for numerous reasons) and it is the responsibility of the team leader to pull the group together and get them working effectively on the team objective. This can often prove to be incredibly difficult.
Habitually team members have their own particular agenda; actions they take to progress their own agenda are typically not in the best interest of the team as a whole and may go against the team objective. Such actions may cause discontent amongst the team, may even force the other team members to be distracted, their efforts become diverted. As a result the performance of the team reduces accordingly.
Those involved in a collaborative relationship have the intent and drive to tackle the task ahead in a determined joint effort to succeed. It’s the kind of impetus that managers and team leaders ultimately desire for their teams but rarely achieve!
Putting this effort and focus into some form of context. Most of us should recall our days at school learning about the struggles of Neanderthal Man (believed to have existed in Europe 600,000–350,000 years ago).
Neanderthals were cave dwellers living in Arctic conditions. In their struggle for survival, the search for food required extensive collaboration and effective team work across their clan. Their hunting parties were forced to travel far beyond their home area. Their most prized prey was the woolly mammoth, a gigantic behemoth, that if successfully hunted would provide a Neanderthal clan with meat for months.
To achieve this ultimate objective, Neanderthals would adopt a strategic plan prior to the hunt (it was the only way that such a collaborative effort would have success in felling a mammoth with only spears and stones) – no doubt running the initiative as a project, so when things didn’t work they would learn from the lessons! Neanderthals would work as a united group, utilising what resources they had available, such as basic weapons, tools such as noise and fire, and natural obstacles and terrain, all used to drive and trap the mammoth (obviously such a strategy was intended to increase their success rate whilst reducing the risk of injury to members of the clan). Once trapped the mammoth would be finished off. Then an end of project wrap up and party!
So if Neanderthals were so effective at collaborative relationships why do so many people struggle with this incredibly effective way of working today?