The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines collaboration as “working with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.” I define collaboration as the Fellowship destroying the Ring of Power or the Rebel Alliance overcoming the evil Galactic Empire. What greater examples of teamwork and interdependence can one find? You can’t. When I consider collaboration, I think Jedi Master Yoda said it best, “Do or do not; there is not try.” People don’t collaborate to simply try; successful collaboration is about getting things done! Can you imagine if Frodo said, “I’ll try to take the Ring to Mordor”? Pft! Enough trying! Here are four thoughts to make sure you and your teams DO rather than simply try.
1 | Everyone must capture & share the goal or vision
It’s hard for your team to work together if everyone does not know what the goal is or believe in the overall vision. Whether your team consists of two or dozens, there must be a collective buy in toward the end goal. If this buy in does not exist, there can be disastrous results. Morale will suffer if the team cannot connect their efforts to the end goal. Those who do not align with the vision will either jump ship or disrupt (either intentionally or unintentionally) group efforts. After all, who disagreed with taking the Ring to Mordor? Boromir. Who tried to take the Ring from Frodo, forcing the Fellowship to split? Boromir. #NuffSaid
2 | Clearly define the roles
Have you ever had a fast approaching deadline where both you and your colleague look at each other asking, “I thought you were taking care of that?” That sinking feeling sets in as you realize something was missed or assumed. It’s the classic I-thought-you-thought miscommunication and it’s #awkward. Save yourself the headache by defining the roles in the beginning. Give clear action items. Ensure your team succeeds by confirming everyone is on the same page and knows exactly what is expected of him or her. Consider this, it wasn’t obvious who was going to be the Ring-bearer until Frodo called dibs. Yes, it’s true, he was kind of a pansy throughout the journey but at the end of the day, he took his role seriously and destroyed evil itself. #Goals
3 | All must use their voice
Collaboration is very difficult if one person dominates the discussions, direction and/or decisions (full disclosure, I did not intend for that alliteration but totally nailed it). As a team member, make sure you speak up and share your thoughts when the time calls for it. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to guarantee the entire team is heard; tactfully call out those who aren’t giving enough input during the project. The end goal is to ensure the success of the team be just that, a team success. Just think, as idiotic as C-3PO was he actually had a role to play in the destruction of the Empire #R2D2Noise
4 | Celebrate the wins
Final thought on collaboration: celebrate good times, c’mon! These can be small, like a personal kudos, or big, such as a full-blown party, but celebrations are essential to true collaboration. Teams that party together, stay together. Celebrations should also be instituted throughout a project. Take time to call out a team member who has done a stellar job so far; team dinners are always welcome; or even a simple email shout out can be effective celebrations. Let your creative juices flow in this arena. And, of course, celebrate the completion of a successful endeavor like an ewok on Endor after the demise of Death Star 2.0. I mean, who didn’t want to be at that party? They made Y2K end of the world shindigs look like a joke! #CantStopWontStop
So go out there and get your collaboration on! Just remember, do or do not. There is no try.