Five Ways to Improve Collaboration

I was at a meeting once where someone shared the proverb “none of us are as smart as all of us” and that phrase has stuck with me for some time.  How many times have I completed projects solo that would have been enhanced if I pulled someone else into the conversation?  I could probably think of a few.  This month, I wanted to offer you five ways to change the way you collaborate in your student groups.

  1. Take the time to learn about as many members of your group as possible.  Understand their basic interests, their motivations for joining the group, and how they hope to contribute to the organization’s success.  In doing so, you are understanding the diverse perspectives and interests that are represented within your group and will be able to reach out to them when the times comes to build a team.  Consider forming subcommittees that allow for a wide array of experiences and strengths to be represented.
  2. When you think of a new idea or initiative, listen to the people who may not agree with you.  That is how I learn and that is how other people feel invested in the work that you do.  I work in an organization where my staff should feel comfortable saying, “that won’t work, Jason.”  Typically my follow-up question always is, “okay, then tell me what will,” and then they too become invested in the project.
  3. Think critically about how your organization can partner with other organizations.  Be thoughtful about which groups you would like to collaborate with.  If you are an organization that is well-versed in program planning, but perhaps not with graphic design/marketing, consider choosing organizations to collaborate with that might be able to exercise their talents (while supporting the work that you do at the same time).  In turn, you might also learn something new, too!
  4. Make sure your organization has many ways to communicate.  With everyone’s busy schedules, attending meetings isn’t always possible.  Think critically about how you will engage people in ways that only require snippets of time – like brainstorming via a Twitter backchannel.
  5.  Get in the habit of reflecting on the collaboration.  What worked?  What didn’t?  How can you improve the experience in the future?  Asking these questions will not only help you develop an essential trait that all leaders should possess, but it will also keep your mind interested in trying new techniques that foster collaboration.

What tips and tricks have you developed that fosters positive collaboration?


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