Defining Collaboration – Teamwork, Value, Purpose

Collaboration is essential for business success. Great collaborative teams are one of the most commonly cited elements by famous CEOs and HR professionals when they recount and explain their successes in corporate or businesses.

But what exactly is collaboration in the workplace?  How is it different from something like teamwork?

Collaboration vs Teamwork

Collaboration is where there are two or more people who are working together by sharing their ideas, brainstorming together, and mixing their skills to achieve a common goal and purpose. It’s teamwork – but with added elements and greater expectations, as you work through a purpose to obtain a greater purpose that can only be better fulfilled by working together.

Breaking the term ‘collaboration’, teamwork is merely the very first part of a three part definition.

Teamwork is when two or more people physically contribute to finish a pre-defined task, like lifting a heavy object with six other people.  It doesn’t always imply the other two parts of the definition of collaboration: the processes (like brainstorming) and higher purpose goals (that provide value to tasks) that collaboration strives to achieve.

Brainstorming and Sharing Ideas

Collaboration surpassing teamwork happens when you allow people to think and brainstorm ideas to provide solutions together. It’s a crucial factor that collaboration allows every specialist who is brought to the team to let their ideas flow freely, so that you illuminate all the corners of an issue that another might fail to perceive.

Sharing ideas under a supportive and goal-oriented leader is the key element to the success, bringing different expertises and departments that normally do not combine together to take advantage of the strengths each different perspective can bring to imagine greater, creative, and more efficient solutions to any problems.

Providing Value and Purpose to Tasks

The third crucial part of collaboration is the value and purpose of the goal itself to all parties involved when collaborating. Every single member of your collaborative team should be there because of a shared purpose between all of them to want to finish their goal. When multiple parties are helping each other out without a goal being shared, that is merely cooperation.

A great collaborative group should allow all the people in it to feel like they are achieving something that is meaningful to them when working on the project. Value can be different for each member – perhaps some are working for promotion, for more experience, for a chance to jump into an exciting project, etc. However, the drive to finish the project should be shared between all members.

Working on something personally worthwhile should inspire the group with a strong sense of purpose, as they feel satisfied with genuine progress towards personal and mutual benefit. If the collaboration in your team is forced, then something has most likely gone wrong in the your project.

Equality and Respect for Every Member

Collaboration depends on drawing in many different experts, groups and specialties, and many members may be used to being higher or lower on the social ladder of your company.

However, often there’s no need to delegate rank in a collaborative team. Leaving titles, authority, and other status defining things at the door to treat everyone as equal in the group opens the group to an opportunity where individuals can ideally communicate openly and create a space where amazing ideas can bloom. Making it obvious that there are no repercussions for honest opinion and discussion in your team can also encourage more vertical communication, as ideas and collaboration increase across all levels of a business – from directors and managers, all the way to your interns.

Creating great collaboration in your business and company is part of an effort of company-culture and effort, and when it is achieved, you can gain great benefits.<link to one of the other collaboration posts



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