by Lex Schroeder
Most of us think we know what the word collaboration means, but we don’t. I usually oversimplify it and think of two or more people joining efforts to get something done. Let’s collaborate on this deeply interesting thing over here! Or let’s join forces on this other thing that demands our attention! Sure, people bring their own skills and talents into the mix, but the emphasis is on productivity, not the interplay and synergy that happens or doesn’t happen—or has no chance of happening—in the group.
I’m working on two different projects dedicated to exploring what effective collaboration looks like in practice and how to create the conditions for it to occur more often. The idea is that if we can work together better, maybe we can focus more energy on the creative potential of the work at hand, advancing the real possibilities that exist there rather than the interpersonal or process dynamics that so often get in the way.
I still have plenty of questions, but this is clear: collaboration is much more than two or more people working together; it’s about communicating and learning with others in order to create something you couldn’t possibly have created alone. It’s about finding a shared groove, yes, but a purposeful, synergistic, fantastically unique one.