What’s your something for 2015?  Collaborate or Die!  

39785-bigthumbnailA New Year.  So, what is your something for 2015?  I have found that having a “something”—one thing—to pursue in a New Year is powerful.

Communicate, Collaborate, and get Creative is something we have been preaching at The Mastermind Century Group since its inception over three years ago.  2015 will be our year of collaboration.

Collaborate: To work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something sounds like a positive goal.

But how do we start?  

When we are standing flat-footed in January and we are looking at our organization knowing collaboration will help in every endeavor, where do we begin?  To start with, let’s accept every new idea that’s offered.  Sounds crazy huh?  But, think about it. A NO is such a dead end, but a YES leads to possibilities.

Make others look good

Next, make others look good.  Collaboration is difficult because we have such a hard time moving the spotlight off us.  So many organizations have a “me-centric” attitude and culture.  In this ME world, we need freedom: freedom to promote others.  This freedom is totally trust-based as we have to know everyone promotes their coworkers because they know their coworkers will reciprocate.

In order to collaborate, we have to trust and we have to be transparent.  The attitude must be this:  “Here’s my idea.  What do you have that can make it better?”

Collaborate or Die 

I recently read that Google took the phrase “collaborate or perish” as a key theme of the company.  But if you Google the phrase, anything but Google comes up.  It appears to be a widely accepted truth.

Companies are flattening organizations on a global scale. Firms are dismantling hierarchies in an attempt to build more collaborative organizations—organizations that rely on reciprocal relationships.

86% of executives acknowledge that collaboration is the key to innovation.

The value of collaboration appears to be recognized everywhere, so why is it so difficult?

The world is more connected than ever, and this connectivity adds to the complexity and the confusion we all face.  There is no way any one person can possibly hold answers to every problem.  This is why diversity is so important.  Resolving complex problems requires a diverse team of creative people, and those who can master the art of collaboration win!

Where do I learn Collaboration? 

Where do we learn to collaborate?  As a leader who runs a college, I can tell you that we don’t teach it is school.  The status quo approach to learning it DO YOUR OWN WORK!  Yes we are trying to bust through the status quo, but it demands that we turn to non-conventional entities to teach and improve our collaboration skills.

Further, functioning in a collaborative environment is tough!   There can be no #1, no MVP. Leaders MUST check their egos at the door.  So many times we default to a one person team, but a one person team simply can not compete against these diverse collaborative entities.  Ideas developed in stove-piped institutions can not stand up to collaborative thinking.

There is POWER in filtering and processing problems through a creative, talented, diverse group.

So as we move deeper into 2015—take a look at your organization.  My hunch is there is just enough dysfunctionality and diversity in there to to generate tension.  The tension is good—it’s creative tension and it’s necessary for innovation.  Let’s build off that and try to build a collaborative culture that sends a message that our mission is truly a shared responsibility.

Collaboration connects leaders that truly want to destroy the status quo.  Remember irrelevance is what happens when we stop while the rest of the world keeps moving.  SO in 2015—collaborate, keep moving, and lets destroy the status quo.


Harvard’s Kennedy School offers their eight key ingredients to effective collaboration:

  1. Have a vision of what you want to accomplish.
  2. “Right-size” the way forward.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  3. Create a platform that collaborators can use to share knowledge and assets, and gives anyone the opportunity to be a leader.
  4. Make participation worthwhile for everyone.
  5. Have the right people with you—those who are very effective.
  6. Deliver on promised performance.
  7. Mind your political support.
  8. Have passion for your undertaking.

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