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Key ingredients for collaboration (it’s way more than IT)

In this video Craig explains that while good IT (information technology) is helpful for good collaboration, it’s really people skills that make collaboration really good.

The following skills are especially valuable:

  1. Ability to define a problem and articulate the common cause
  2. Ability to analyze divergent ideas and coalesce them into practical proposals
  3. Ability to bring certain attitudes like humility and open-mindedness

Craig explains each of these skills and how they are so important to high quality collaboration.


Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey, it’s Craig Freshley here. Good collaboration requires more than just good information technology, more than just good IT. If you look up the word “collaboration” on Google you are going to find lots of stuff about internet technology and software that helps people share files, communicate with each other, and work on projects together from remote locations. Good software is one important aspect of collaboration, but it’s not all there is to it.

To say that good collaboration happens if you have good software and hardware is like saying that good entertainment happens if you have a good TV-speaker-stereo system. The home entertainment system is the medium through which the entertainment comes to our living rooms. Good entertainment requires people, skilled people with people skills. And it’s the same with collaboration.

Good collaboration requires somebody to define the problem, for instance. If we have a bunch of people working on what they think are slightly different problems, if there is a lack of definition about the problem, if there is murkiness about what IS the problem that we’re trying to solve, then we’re not going to have good collaboration. Good collaboration requires a common cause and it’s usually a leader or a group of leaders that are able to articulate that problem to be solved, question to be answered, or common cause.

Another thing that good collaboration requires is the skill of being able to reflect back to the group what they’re saying as a group. This is an analytic skill. It’s the ability to be able to hear lots of creative ideas, to see lots of creative things, and stitch them together into a single or a short list of actual proposals for future evaluation. I have seen no software or hardware able to do that nearly as good as a skilled human being. Somebody with that analytic capability, not just the ability to evaluate the different ideas economically or statistically or geographically, but to take into account the nuances of body language, different personality styles, and emotions, and identify that short list of leading proposals.

A third important people skill for collaboration is the attitude that the individual collaborators bring to the table. There are attitudes that are helpful and attitudes that are unhelpful. If I’m trying to collaborate with others and I think that I already know what’s best, that’s not helpful for good collaboration. If I think that there are certain people among my colleagues who have nothing valuable to contribute, that doesn’t help with good collaboration. An attitude of actually wanting to hear, genuinely wanting to hear the good ideas from my fellow collaborators; a genuine humility; a belief that I don’t know what’s best; an open-mindedness to change my ideas, build on my ideas, and adopt better ideas based on what other people said – that is a helpful attitude. And it’s more than an attitude. I call it a people skill because it is something that we can learn and it’s something that we have the choice over.

IT is important for good collaboration, but it’s just a tool. And what really brings those tools alive and what results in good collaboration are people with skills. People skills.

Here’s hoping that you can corral a bunch of people with skills and come up with some great collaborative solutions to a well-defined problem. Good luck out there!

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