Collaboration = Consensus + Compromise. This formulaic misunderstanding of collaboration gives rise to the perception that a great deal of time and energy is needed to achieve meaningful goals via collaboration. Many people believe collaboration takes time away from necessary work and requires more time to deal with disagreements. At face value, it appears that engaging in a task as an individual or even as a directed team is more efficient and less stressful than any form of collaboration. The truth is most people enjoy some form of self-reliance, self-expression, and satisfaction from working towards an accomplishment or goal. What is the difference? Collaboration includes group learning curves.
Group learning curves can be uncomfortable. Why? Because it takes people out of the all too comfortable cultural norm that implies operating independently is better and less work. Collaboration learning curves can seem long, even drawn out, and require more communication than what may be expected or desired. Frustration with “consensus-making” conversations and activities is often a place where people stall out and label collaborations as more work for individuals.
Yes—collaborations require communication and sometimes more communication than some personality styles are comfortable with, which can be labeled “as more work.” Yet collaborations give individuals the opportunity to utilize and share their competencies with others for meaningful, productive outcomes. Authentic collaborations allow individuals the opportunity to experience the power of their knowledge, skill and brilliance.
Groups that agree to collaborate can establish a Collaborative Work Flow Plan, which is designed to clarify roles, responsibilities and necessary communication agreements for all of the participants. This type of plan includes specific protocols for using each communication tool available, such as: email, phone and in-person meetings, voice messaging, text messaging, internet, intranet, blogs, etc.
Now consider a different formula for collaboration: Collaboration = Group + Individual Brilliance = A Fuller Solution. This formula provides a much greater return to the goal than could ever be accomplished alone.