Collaboration in the Workplace: A Goal or Mission-Critical

Collaboration is the latest buzzword in the business world. Businesses are deploying collaboration software, hiring community managers, and employees are being told to “work together.” Collaboration sounds like a good thing, but, do you know what effective collaboration looks like?

crowdEphraim Freed, self-proclaimed Internet Nerd, defines collaboration as two or more people (team), working together (processes) toward shared goals (purpose.) In the workplace, collaboration often takes place in the form of a team, a network or a community.

Teams include members that are focused on a joint goal or product, such as a presentation, completing a project, writing a report, or creating a new design or prototype.

Networks are systems of people who share information and services usually around a common interest.

Communities are made up of members with shared interests and who want to learn from each other, building and sharing knowledge, they are not necessarily focused on achieving a specific goal.

In each of type of collaboration, new ideas are generated and explored. However, collaboration is not a one-time event nor is it easy to implement without practice. Collaboration is a process that continues to get better over time. The more people collaborate, the more significant their working relationships become and teams are better able to share and discuss ideas, leading to more successful results.

Strategies for Successful collaboration

According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, there’s a big difference between working together and truly collaborating with one another. Collaborative activity is the “secret sauce” that enables teams to come up with innovative new products or creative, buzz-worthy marketing campaigns. Chris Jones, an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, agrees with the idea of a “secret sauce” of ingredients for driving effective collaboration. Jones’ recipe includes engagement, authenticity, respect, positivity, and focus.

In the video below, Apple CEO Tim Cook describes his strategy for hiring people who will focus on collaboration and deliver the “magic” that happens when great minds come together.

What is the best way to ensure that your team is successful collaborating?

Sarah Maynard shares three tips for encouraging collaboration in the workplace; communicate, visualize and acknowledge.

  • Communicate by sharing ideas with your coworkers, contacts, managers, and anyone who will listen.
  • Use visuals to help communicate your ideas and clarify your ideas at the most simplistic level. Visuals are a great facilitator to aid strategic thinking and planning. Acknowledge the work that your team is doing.
  • Give credit when a team member has contributed a good idea, hard work, or even good constructive criticism. Collaborative relationships work best when team members feel appreciated and valued.

Dr. Carol Kinsey Gorman shares her 7 insights for collaboration in the workplace telling us that collaboration is a leadership issue which requires a change in the attitudes and behaviors of people throughout an organization. Some of them include:

  • Collaboration is essential for organizational change whether the change involves creating new products, services, processes or a total reinvention of the organization.
  • Success dictates that the individuals impacted by change be involved in the change from the very beginning.
  • Visioning is a team sport. Today’s most successful leaders guide their organizations not through command and control, but through a shared purpose and vision. These leaders adopt and communicate a vision of the future that impels people beyond the boundaries and limits of the past.
  • Diversity is crucial because it makes people to consider perspectives and possibilities that would otherwise be ignored. Group members who think alike or are trained in similar disciplines with similar bases of knowledge run the risk of becoming insular in their ideas. Instead of exploring alternatives, a confirmation bias takes over and members tend to reinforce one another’s predisposition. Relationships are critical to the outcome of any collaborative effort.
  • Collaboration is dependent upon well-developed personal relationships among participants.
  • Trust is the glue that keeps it all together. Trust is the belief or confidence that one party has in the reliability, integrity and honesty of another party.
  • Finally, don’t forget that your body language matters.

Do you encourage your team to collaborate? What tips can you share to help others lead their teams to work better together? Post a comment with your ideas!

Video: Active listening: Pep Rosenfeld at TEDxBinnenhof

Pep Rosenfeld is one of the founders of Boom Chicago as well as the artistic director. Rosenfeld writes tailored presentations and campaigns for companies as well as hosts events like Next, TEDxAmsterdam and Spin Awards. He is a political junkie, interested in current events in America, the Netherlands and Europe.

STREB – An artist-driven community institution

I saw a SLAM (@STREBSLAM) performance in Williamsburg yesterday. What a great way to spend the day!

Read the Review in the NY Times – Daredevils Take Flight and Land Safely Near Your Lap
‘Forces!’ at the Streb Lab for Action Mechanics

Watch this video by founder, Elizabeth Streb, about STREB: Streb: How to Become an Extreme Action Hero

Here are some of my own videos from the show:

#fly #streb #steps #extremeaction #slam #brooklyn #dance

What most schools don’t teach – Coding!

Video: The Power of Words

This short film illustrates the power of words to radically effect change.

RSA Animate – The Power of Outrospection

Introspection is out, and outrospection is in. Philosopher and author Roman Krznaric explains how we can help drive social change by stepping outside ourselves.

Goal-Setting: Starting the New Year Off Constructively

As 2013 quickly approaches, many of us will be thinking about how we can start the New Year off productively. Goal-setting is an important activity; for individuals and for businesses.

How do you set goals? Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

SMART Goal-setting for the 21st Century – a post I had written a while ago –

7 Good Habits of Highly Successful People –

Here are some ideas for Goal-Setting in the classroom:

Lesson Plan – SMART Goal Setting –

Setting Goals and Using Feedback to Attain Them

Tarot Cards: Reading the Subconscious

I have to confess that I am fascinated with Tarot Cards. There are different decks of Tarot Cards but the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is probably the most popular. It is a 78 card deck designed by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite (according to the box.)

The Rider-Waite Tarot website has a great page with pictures of all the cards in the deck.

The Tarot deck is made up of the Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana. The Cards of the Minor Arcana represent the energy, emotions and activities of our daily lives.

The Minor Arcana is divided into 4 suits:

  • Pentacles represent business, money, material possession, practical skills and tangible accomplishment.
  • Cups are cards of emotion and reflection and indicate spiritual authority, contemplation and inner feelings.
  • Swords indicate temporal authority, leadership, wisdom, ideas, creativity and decisiveness.
  • Wands indicate practical strength, productivity, confidence, physical power and self-reliance.

The Major Arcana, also known as trumps, are picture cards that represent principles, concepts and ideals. They are numbered one through 21, with the 22nd card (the “Fool”) marked as zero. The Major Arcana cards represent strong, long-term energy or big events in some area of life.

This site also has descriptions of the cards –

There are different ways to read the cards but one of the most popular is the Celtic Cross reading and it is the easiest to get the desired result for the most questions. This video shows a Celtic Cross reading:

Placement of the cards and Significance in the Celtic Cross

Here is an example of how to read the Celtic Cross –

1 – The Heart of the Matter

2 – What’s Crossing You

3 – The Root Cause

4 – The Recent Past

5 – Possible Outcomes

6 – Immediate Future

7 – You (The Querent) personal feelings

8 – The Querent’s Environment

9 – Hopes and Fears

10 – The Outcome (based on all the other cards)

The Future Belongs to Those Who Innovate Fast

Jim Carroll speaks about Innovation and Future Changes. An interesting fact that caught my attention; 60% of the kids in pre-school today will work in jobs that do not currently exist.

What do world-class innovators focus on?

  • The long term.
  • They think in terms of disruptive ideas.
  • They prepare for accelerating change.
  • They check the speed of delivery (are we acting fast enough?)
  • They align themselves with Just-In-Time knowledge.


  • Observe
  • Think
  • Change
  • Dare
  • Banish
  •  Try
  • Question
  • Grow
  • Do

Andy Warhol: Wild Raspberries

Andy Warhol’s  “Wild Raspberries” show ran from December 2 – 24, 1959 and was accompanied by a self-published limited edition book of the same name. Wild Raspberries, a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt, featured Warhol’s hand colored illustrations of food items accompanied by whimsical faux recipes.

My uncle, Loy Hanna, met Andy Warhol in the 1960′s and received a copy of Wild Raspberries from Warhol, himself.

“Wild Raspberries,” according to Frankfurt:

Lunching and shopping became a ritual. During one of their excursions, Mrs. Frankfurt told the artist, “We had to write a funny cookbook for people who don’t cook. My mother, who was a hostess sine qua non, deemed the most important thing for a new bride was to be a good hostess. I wanted to emulate my mother, of course, and it was the year all these French cookbooks came out. I tried to make sense of them. ‘Make a béchamel sauce,’ they’d say. I didn’t even know what that was.

“So we did the book, Andy with his Dr. Martin’s dyes and Mrs. Warhol [Andy's mother], her calligraphy. She was gifted and untutored, and we left all the spelling mistakes. I wrote the recipes.” Schoolboys were hired to hand-color the books, a wonderful shiny paper was selected for the covers, and the books were brought to rabbis on the Lower East Side for binding. “There were two versions, colored” of which there were 34, “and semicolored. We thought it would be a masterpiece and we’d sell thousands. I think we sold 20.”


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