Charles Darwin’s wisdom reflects how ahead of the times he was:

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too)

those who learned to collaborate and improvise most

effectively have prevailed.”

Today’s corporate success emerges out of a medley of talented executives who are pooling together diverse ideas, all the while working smart to achieve a shared vision. Yes, collaboration is fundamental, but then, that’s not an innovative concept.

America has an extensive history of products and services that changed the face of the world. There’s a slew of examples where, despite receiving individual acclaim, it was a collaborative effort.

  • Thomas Edison is the inventor of electricity and many other products, but the proliferation of his inventions would have been limited if he also hadn’t had a strong scientific team.
  • By Walt Disney’s own words, he never would have been able to accomplish all he did without his brother Roy.
  • Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, as many ascribe. He did develop and manufacture the first automobile that middle-class Americans could afford.
  • Steve Jobs acknowledges the magic of Jony Ive’s, Apple’s design genius, for the success of their products.

If you think you’ve got collaboration wired and you don’t need to learn anything new because you’re a great prevailer, perhaps you’re right. However, based upon my experience, I’d rethink that stance. And if you imagine collaboration is the cat’s meow and the perfect solution for every problem, you’d be wrong. 

There are three wrinkles to a successful collaborative effort to consider before jumping into the process.

  1. You have to determine if collaboration is even the right process, ask: Is this a project or a decision that will be better if made collectively, or is this something one executive—me—has the authority and should decide alone? Sometimes, unfortunately, collaboration is used to abdicate responsibility. Productive, healthy strategic partnering is where you achieve more by coming together.
  1. How are your full-circle collaboration skills stacking up when in the midst of many? Global research by Slack addresses this as employees share what makes a good experience for them:
  1. And new research by Harvard Business School should leave you rethinking your collaborative decisions. It suggests that intermittently coming together may be the right equation for successful collaborative activities. They found groups that irregularly gathered together and then proceeded to work independently have above average quality solutions, but also produced some of the best concepts. Harvard determined that interspersing independent efforts with collaborative group meetings spread out over time delivered optimal benefits. Is this stirring your brain a bit when it comes to collaboration? 

Progressive companies have come to realize the dynamism of collaboration. By divvying up the responsibility and brainpower between a team of highly qualified executives, they increase the quality of the solutions as well as the outcomes. This judgment is confirmed by a Mckinsey and Company survey, which revealed: Nearly 80 percent of the senior executives surveyed said that effective coordination across product, functional, and geographic lines was crucial for growth.

What have you gleaned from this blog that you intend and can take on to continue being a prevailing collaborator? Your career success rests on building proficiencies in this area—I kid you not!

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