Successful groups prepare for collaboration

Collaboration is often desired for members to share their creativity and activities. It is considered efficient. This post presents a working definition for the term, collaboration, followed by the benefits and limitations of collaboration. Suggestions for improvement follow in a future post.


The concept, collaboration, has three consistent ramifications. The first thing to keep in mind is that collaboration involves more than one person who work together. The second fundamental fact of collaboration is that there is a definite project with the beginning, middle and end. The last requirement for collaboration is that those involved in the project share information, tasks, and informal processes. Generally, this requires a reasonable amount of trust and willingness to share.


An economy of sharing effort is reasonable for its benefits. Today collaboration is widely accepted as beneficial. Talents of each person maximize group solutions. Synthesis of the group’s creativity innovates greater results. Working together towards similar goals can strengthen teams, fortified for future endeavors. Additionally, collaborative leaders develop delegation skills. In its best form, collaboration reduces costs, decreases schedule and improves quality. Yet many teams find their way through the challenges of working effectively together.

If we adopt the same collaborative mindset and practices that got to the moon and back, and that built the International Space Station, we can alleviate poverty—and do much more.”
Ron Garan, The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles.


The concept of collaboration can seem rudimentary when people skills are not taken into account. Too often groups are told to collaborate without any preparation or instruction. Group members need self awareness skills, maturity, communication skills and organization skills to collaborate well. Unfortunately these skills are extremely rare. Skillful group collaboration demands groundwork. It is not for the weak of heart. Steve Jobs (2011, Issacson, W.) described this type of collaborative intelligence as “deep collaboration” and “concurrent engineering.”

Collaborations are the black holes of knowledge regimes. They willingly produce nothingness, opulence and ill behavior.
Florian Schneider, Musician

In summary, collaboration is a skill set that involves two or more people who share as they work towards a stated goal. The collaboration skill-set benefits productivity yet, there are inherent limitations. Collaboration pays off when the group is prepared with foundational skills. Three basic conditions for practical collaboration are presented in the next post, March 25, 2016.

Issacson, W., Steve Jobs, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011

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