Quiz Answer Summary
Collaboration is all about engaging others to progress an unresolved challenge.
At its core, collaboration involves interacting with others to develop a new insight and/or inform some decision or action; the underlying premise being that there is some objective or action that remains unresolved and requires further examination together. It is the enquiry effort that offers the potential to generate deep and common understandings, creative solutions, high commitment levels, and productive relationships. Collaboration should therefore not be confused with polite or superficial exchanges, or maintaining co-operation alone.
Collaboration occurs when people co-contribute to a productive enquiry.
People who collaborate are part of a conversation cycle that has three (3) identifiable stages; they enquire (context, issue, and interests), gather (possible ways forward, what’s important), and generate (answers, plans). In process terms, each stage adds value and is that basis of setting standards. Participation is an inherent part of collaboration done well; so it is also possible to set standards for it that apply through all three (3 ) stages of conversations.
Collaboration is led by initiators who need to manage process and participation.
Participation which is a requirement of collaboration is not the same as joint ownership. Participation implies sufficient connectedness; all participants should understand the context, contribute views, understand those of others, and be able to explain the rationale for outcomes. At any point in the process, initiators may confront barriers; individual emotions, relationship challenges, and environmental factors and pressures can all interfere with a person’s willingness and capacity to collaborate. At these times, it is the initiator who must re-engage participants in the dialogue. To be clear, this includes maintaining participation when dealing with topics likely to create conflict, and for which there is unlikely to be a consensus view reached.
Collaboration occurs through established patterns of interaction that can be managed.
Put simply, collaboration as an engagement approach that can benefit a range of routine interactions; communication, consultation, joint problem-solving, and negotiation/influence are all distinct types of engagement processes that benefit from collaboration. The repeat nature of these interactions, together with the fact that in many cases it’s the same people/relationships, means that initiators can adopt a continuous improvement focus in which they look to better understand and control commonly-experienced variances.
Collaboration benefits from a clear set of accountabilities and incentives.
Collaboration is a mode of direct engagement and co-exists with other modes of engagement, rights and obligations, and power influences. Viewed in this context, collaboration reflects a preference as to “how” decision-making and consultation processes should be handled regardless of the agenda (good & bad news) and regardless of the initial receptivity of others to be involved. Initiators will invariably be influenced by the practical realities, will need to ensure others remain appropriately engaged, and adapt the formality of their approach to the complexity of the situation; participants are equally influenced by the prospect of alternative engagement alternatives (such as rights and power influences) imposing an outcome. At the end of the day, participants will factor “the opportunity for involvement” vs “the risk of non-participation”; and that will impact their response along with considerations of trust and respect. It is important to emphasise that trust and mutual respect provides an important foundation to collaboration.
Collaboration surfaces conflict and requires a problem solving capability to navigate it.
The involvement of “two or more parties” inherently attracts the potential for conflict. Collaboration calls for a particular way of navigating conflict where participants work together or jointly problem solve. Benchmark performers are assertive in examining respective perspectives and maintaining a cooperative environment. These two factors distinguish collaboration from other approaches to managing conflict such as compromise, concession, competition, and avoidance.
Collaboration involves customising techniques to best fit the decision-making process.
Collaboration is often misunderstood as “consensus”, which is a form of group decision making aspired to by teams and Committees. Whilst collaboration is an effective means for achieving consensus, it in no way guarantees nor relies on consensus. Collaboration is not restricted to consensus decisions; clearly it assists other decision making processes such as participatory (individuals) and democratic (group majority) processes. Adapting the formality and techniques is a case of matching the engagement approach to fit the process. Participants will not have the same expectations when it comes to leadership routines v consultation v bargaining new entitlements; so initiators need to understand the distinctions and tailor their response.
Collaboration attracts a distinct set of capabilities that can be learned by individuals.
Collaboration is a transparent routine and relies on a distinct set of capabilities to do it well. Individuals can develop their confidence in these capability-sets over time; it is through experience that they truly come to understand the nuances of working with specific vocabulary, process steps and techniques; and can adapt these to manage more complex engagements. Capability can be measured through different levels of expertise which comes down to ability to get an outcome this time and build the relationship capability to achieve more on an ongoing basis.